Belfast City Council in rates freeze

Published Friday, 11 January 2013
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Belfast City Council has agreed a rates freeze to help traders affected by the flags trouble, after a DUP proposal to cut rates was defeated.

Belfast City Council in rates freeze
Shoppers waiting at a bus stop in Belfast watch riot police march by. (© Getty)

Sinn Féin said it is the first time in living memory that a zero increase in the striking of the rate has been managed by BCC.

It comes after local businesses lost out during the busy Christmas period and beyond due to protests over the council's decision to only fly the Union flag at City Hall on designated days.

The Confederation of British Industry estimated the total cost to the city at up to £15m.

A motion to cut rates by 2% was put forward by the DUP but defeated by Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Alliance Party.

Lee Reynolds of the DUP said: "The DUP believes that such a cut is achievable while ring fencing for protection key areas such as community services and economic development.

"It offered to work with the other parties over the next two weeks to reach an all-party agreement but this was rejected by Alliance, SDLP and Sinn Féin.

"The DUP also considers it ridiculous that after a City Council decision has set good relations in the city back years that they propose no increase in the Good Relations budget. Now is the time for clear and prompt action not offering people what you were planning to do anyway."

Meanwhile the freeze has been welcomed by Sinn Féin.

Councillor Deirdre Hargey said: "This is the first time in living memory that we have managed to have a zero increase in the striking of the rate and is testament to prudent planning and crucial efficiency savings by our Council management and staff.

"The alternative by unionists to introduce a new cuts programme and abandon investment projects would result in job losses, dent confidence in our city and deepen the economic crisis. Putting hundreds of council workers on the dole is the last thing we should be doing if we want to help our city through this recession.

"Unionists proposed to committee a 'cuts programme' which would be disastrous for Belfast. This is a time to invest in the future not to slash and burn."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Bob in Belfast wrote (744 days ago):
This is an absolute disgrace. Businesses have been suffering tremendously as a result of the protests. The Mayor comes out on BBC (or maybe) UTV and tells the businesses that they should continue to pay their rates as failure will ultimately lead them into a more difficult situation and over the next few months they will look at how we can help businesses, yet they agree the rates changes for the next fiscal year. I'm sure Belfast City Council will be happy to know I am vacating the city and NI to another country which actually supports business.
please stop. its embarrasing in wise up wrote (746 days ago):
Belfast City Council has agreed a rates freeze to help traders affected by the flags trouble, after a DUP proposal to cut rates was defeated.. so riot police move in to remove angry traders who are offended by the removing of their income .
james in belfast wrote (746 days ago):
only fair that rates for those that fall under the belfast city council are frozen. I live on the castlereagh road which falls under the belfast city borough, not the castlereagh borough. My rates are about £930 a month yet for a house in the castlereagh borough area with the same rateable value (RV)the rates are under £600.
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