The Alliance Party group on Castlereagh Council has voted against the DUP proposed rate – a rise of over 9p in the rates.
This rise will result in massive cuts to services, including the closure of the Council’s only swimming and diving pool for up to two years, the temporary closure of the municipal golf course and the closure of Dungoyne Community Centre. There will also be a massive drop in the number of summer schemes and huge cuts in the Arts and Economic Development budgets. All this will result in many staff being laid off.
Alliance Group Leader and South Belfast Councillor Geraldine Rice said: “This is the result of the DUP having set artificial rates for years that always focused on Castlereagh’s position in the Council league tables.”
“What is needed is a consistent rates strategy to avoid boom and bust scenarios. Alliance has argued for a long-term strategy on rates, which would have avoided this year’s problems, but good advice has been ignored.”
“This year the chickens have all come home to roost, with huge cuts to services and budgets across the board and massive rises in costs to the public. The Council may have met its statutory obligations, but for the DUP to describe Castlereagh as the ‘Premier Borough’ now looks like a sick joke.”
“Sadly the biggest losers in this whole sorry saga will not be the ratepayers but the many Council employees who now face losing their jobs. The tragedy is that the DUP will probably continue to boast about setting a low rate, but is it really worth it, in terms of lost jobs, loss of leisure and community services and massive cuts in areas like the arts?”