Alliance demands that Unionists and Nationalists clarify how they would solve rates crisis

Former Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Ekin has challenged Unionists and Nationalists to clarify precisely what they would do to avoid severe rates increases for householders here. He said that the failure of the parties who formed the last devolved Executive to come up with an alternative plan to rates and water charges was the reason there was no effective challenge to their implementation by Government.

The Alliance Councillor stated: “Householders are being hit with ludicrous rates increases that put their homes at risk – but our politicians can do nothing other than pretend to be sympathetic without putting forward a single proposal as to what they would do differently from the direct-rule ministers.

“Small wonder people have lost faith that devolution would make any difference!

“The Alliance Party is the only party that has alternative plans. By removing segregation of public services such as education and housing, we would save money while providing the same standard of services. Part of that money would go towards reducing rates bills back to where they were previously.

“People need to be clear: these rates hikes will be used to pay for the luxuries of separate schools, segregated housing, and divided leisure facilities. If people want to continue with these luxuries, they are going to have to pay for them. We in the Alliance Party believe that integrating these services and enabling people to spend their own money the way they want is a much better way forward.

“Alliance also proposes to implement a system of local and regional taxation, based on ability to pay, to replace these exorbitant and unfair and rates hikes.”

“The sectarian parties still have not come up with a single plan as to how they would fund schools, housing and transport without rates hikes and water charges. That, frankly, is the penalty of the sectarian political system. I would suggest now is the time to try the alternative, and we in Alliance will continue to provide that option.”


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