Braid Ulster Unionist Councillor, Alan Barr
Braid Ulster Unionist Councillor, Alan Barr, has voiced his disapproval of the recent rate increase within Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
At a meeting on Monday night (12th February), the rates for businesses and domestic properties were increased by 11.86% and 9.78% respectively.
Councillor Barr fears that these increases will put unfair and unnecessary pressures on householders and business owners alike. However, in despite of these rate increases, the Braid representative thanked the senior management team for doing their utmost to get the rate as low as possible.
Commenting after Monday night's council meeting, Councillor Alan Barr said:
"I could not have supported this rate rise. This was not for political point scoring. It was because, during my election campaign, I promised constituents that I would restore trust in local government by not misusing ratepayers’ money. I was not prepared to go back on my word.
"I was elected to represent ratepayers; I know that many of them are struggling financially; therefore, it would have been deceitful and wrong of me to have played a part in increasing their financial hardship.
"I believe that over the past few years, preplanning for harder times within MEABC did not occur. Issues around not reclaiming VAT; dependency on agency workers; direct award contracts and procurement certainly did not prepare the council for harder times.
"We are now facing those harder times, and some are expecting the ratepayer to pay for it: I say unreasonable and unfair!"
Councillor Barr continued:
"Going forward, to help reduce the burden on the ratepayer, areas we must look at carefully are improving procurement and increasing joint procurement and other functions with other Councils; reviewing staff sickness to counter overtime and agency staff; reviewing the hosting of award ceremonies hosted by Council; and reviewing and reducing what we spend on advertising literature.
"Perhaps if these areas had been reviewed more carefully, I would not be campaigning for the maintenance of a local playpark, I would not be hearing about football training being cancelled at the Showgrounds and I would not be hearing reports about bins not being emptied on time.
"Until I am satisfied that ratepayers’ money is being used efficiently to put them first, I cannot support and will not support such a hike in rates."