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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Statement from Mid & East Antrim Borough Council following ‘behind closed doors’ Rate meeting

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council sign

Statement from Mid & East Antrim Borough Council


Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has agreed an increase in the domestic district rate of 9.78% for 2024/25.


In real terms, this will mean an average weekly increased charge of £1.39 (or £72.03 per year) for homes valued at £110,361.


The non-domestic district rate will increase by 11.86%, meaning an average change of £18 per week per small retail unit or £51 per week for a hospitality premises.



Council’s portion of rates amounts to just under 50% of the rates bills received by citizens in Mid and East Antrim, with the remainder set by the Stormont Executive.


Elected Members agreed the district rate at a special Council meeting on Monday evening against the backdrop of unprecedented financial challenges faced by many local authorities, including Mid and East Antrim.


Locally, these include an unexpected and sudden rates income shortfall for the next year of approximately £1.7m, and additional projected Council running costs of almost £12.2m over the next year due to a wide range of financial pressures, including soaring energy bills, rising staff costs, waste management fees and vehicle provision and maintenance.



Last week, Council was informed rateable income from the Borough’s largest ratepayer – Kilroot Energy Park – will be temporarily reduced by approximately £1.7m, which equates to an estimated impact on Mid and East Antrim’s forecasted rate projections for next year of 2.7%.


EPUKI is currently developing the site as part of the wider Kilroot Energy Park masterplan, and rates receivable from Kilroot will be reduced significantly during this period.


However, the new Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs) and the Multi-Fuel Combined Heat and Power Facility planned for the site would provide significant rates for Mid and East Antrim soon.



Next year’s budget also includes vital invest-to-save measures which will require an initial outlay before delivering significant savings as part of the ongoing transformation of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. These include changes to staffing structures and investment in services to boost efficiency and value for money at Council.


The Council has also committed to delivering savings of £6.85m in the next financial year to meet the agreed budget, with all spend of public money subject to enhanced and more robust scrutiny, accountability and transparency measures.


Elected Members and Council officers worked together for several months to strike a rate that continues to support residents and deliver services that are important to the wellbeing of all. This includes continuing to support communities through a range of service support whilst making sure we continue to address public sector financial pressures.



Even through this we will continue to deliver regeneration and infrastructure projects that promotes what Mid and East Antrim has to offer as a place to live, work and grow.


Forthcoming major projects in the Borough include but are not limited to the £80m investment throughout Mid and East Antrim from Belfast Region City Deal; £7m investment at Carnfunnock Country Park in conjunction with the UK Levelling-Up Fund; £8m investment at Ecos in Ballymena; purchase of new energy-efficient waste and fleet vehicles for Council; continued delivery of play park improvements, including at the flagship Marine Gardens facility in Carrickfergus; and rollout of synthetic sports pitches.


A spokesperson for Council said:


“It is with deep regret that the rates increase for the year ahead is higher than any of us would want but Council, like so many other public sector bodies, is facing unprecedented financial pressures.


“£6.8m of savings have been identified throughout this incoming financial year, but soaring costs to deliver services and maintain our facilities mean we are in an unenviable position this year of still having to implement this increase to meet the needs of our citizens.



“We are acutely aware of the struggles many people and our businesses are facing within our community and remain focused on doing everything within our power to help and support them, while safeguarding the essential services they rely on.”


The district rate funds a wide range of public services, including waste, leisure services, business support, community support, parks and regeneration.


To find out more about what district rate payments fund, please visit Council’s Rates page on its website. For advice on rates, housing benefit and rates relief, please visit the NI Direct website.


 

RECORD OF VOTE


FOR (20)


Cllr Lauren Gray (Alliance, Carrick Castle) 

Cllr Gregg McKeen (DUP, Larne Lough)

Cllr Bobby Hadden (Independent, Knockagh)

Cllr Lawrie Philpott (DUP, Ballymena)

Cllr Paul Reid (DUP, Larne Lough)

Cllr William McCaughey (DUP, Braid)

Cllr Angela Smyth (DUP, Coast Road)

Cllr Robin Stewart (UUP, Carrick Castle)

Cllr Aaron Skinner (Alliance, Knockagh)

Cllr Maeve Donnelly (Alliance, Larne Lough)

Cllr Jack Gibson (Alliance, Ballymena)

Cllr Robert Logan (Alliance, Larne Lough)

Cllr Chelsea Harwood (Alliance, Braid)

Cllr Reuben Glover (DUP, Ballymena)

Cllr Marc Collins (DUP, Kockagh)

Cllr Tyler Hoey (DUP, Bannside)

Cllr Andrew Clarke (DUP, Coast Road)

Cllr Beth Adger (DUP, Braid)

Ald Thomas Gordon (DUP, Bannside)

Cllr Maureen Morrow (UUP, Coast Road)


AGAINST (14)


Cllr Matthew Armstong (TUV, Ballymena)

Cllr Ian Friary (Sinn Fein, Bankside)

Cllr David Clarke (Independent, Carrick Castle)

Cllr Matthew Warwick (TUV, Braid)

Cllr Timothy Gaston (TUV, Bannside)

Cllr Christopher Jamieson (TUV, Braid)

Cllr Bethany Ferris (UUP, Carrick Castle)

Cllr Andrew Wilson (UUP, Knockagh)

Cllr Bréanainn Lyness (Sinn Fein, Ballymena)

Cllr James McKeown (Sinn Fein, Coast Road)

Cllr Colin Crawford (UUP, Ballymena)

Cllr Alan Barr (UUP, Braid)

Cllr Jackson Minford (UUP, Bannside)

Ald Stewart McDonald (TUV, Bannside)


ABSTAINED (1)


Cllr Roy Beggs (UUP, Larne Lough)


NOT PRESENT TO VOTE (5)


Cllr Rodney Quigley (Independent, Ballymena)

Cllr Archie Rae (Sinn Fein, Braid)

Cllr Billy Ashe (DUP, Carrick Castle)

Ald Gerardine Mulvenna (Alliance, Coast Road)

Cllr Peter Johnston (DUP, Knockagh)

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