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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Not “in the name of the TUV” – Gaston hits out at 10% rates hike for Mid & East Antrim

Councillor Timothy Gaston

Pictured Councillor Timothy Gaston

Bannside TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston has hit out after it was revealed on Thursday (8th February) that Mid & East Antrim Council is expected to strike a rate next week will that will lumber households across the borough with a hike of around 10%.

Council officers called a meeting with local councillors on Thursday night to discuss the pressures facing the local authority which is facing unprecedented rising costs while dealing with a £7.2m financial deficit.

After news of the 10% hike was published on Love Ballymena yesterday evening, there was a strong public outcry from local residents who themselves are struggling with the current cost-of-living crisis.

In Northern Ireland last year Belfast City Council set the highest district rate rise of 7.99%. It is anticipated that Mid and East Antrim's rate rise could well be the highest of any local council across the province for 2024/25.

On Thursday night two other local authorities announced their rate for the year ahead. Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council struck a rate of 3.98% with the council hailing the “lowest district rate in Northern Ireland”. Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council struck its new District Rate at 6.86%. Earlier this week, Newry Mourne and Down District Council struck a rate increase of 6.41%.

Local Bannside TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston responded to the report published last night on Love Ballymena, saying "the rate rise quoted isn’t acceptable to me and it won’t be approved in the name of TUV".

Councillor Gaston commented:

"I see this post on Love Ballymena is getting a lot of traction on social media tonight and rightly so.

There’s a limit to what I can say at this stage before the rate is struck on Monday night due to the rate workshops being held in closed council.

"I have long maintained that the council is out of kilter with what the rate payer wants. There will be those who want to compare our rates rises to the rise of inflation since 2015, there will also be those trying to hail this as a good news story and those that try to downplay the rise as only £2-£3 extra a week, don’t be fooled with their fluffy words.

"My message to those councillors is that there’s no good news story in a 10+% rated hike.

"Picking up on the points about the pay rise, the pay rise happens regardless and it’s up to each councillor if they want they can forfeit it with the Council Payroll Dept which some already do and some give there’s to charity through council.

"The money I got in the payrise and a whole lot more has went back into helping the most needy and vulnerable in the community that I’ve been assisting over the last couple of months.

"The rate rise quoted isn’t acceptable to me and it won’t be approved in the name of TUV.

"I hope the people I see giving off on social media will challenge their councillors on these issues as it’s only ever TUV I ever hear raising these points within the chamber."

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Members will meet on Monday evening, 12th February to agree and finalise the borough's rates for 2024/25.


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