Monday 25 September 2017 11:12:06 PM

Newly Mourne And Down Council Sets District Rate
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Newry Mourne and Down District Council has agreed the District Rate for 2017/2018.

dn_screenAt a meeting of the Council on Monday 6 February 2017, Newry Mourne and Down District Council agreed its budget for the next financial year (from the 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018).

Representing a 2.66% increase in the District Rate, this moderate increase will cover the cost of the public services the Council is responsible for, including: a wide range of environmental services such as refuse collection and street cleansing, the economic regeneration of our District, the provision of leisure and community facilities and planning.

What does this mean for Ratepayers in Newry Mourne & Down?

The Rates that you pay every year are made-up of the District Rate (which is agreed by the Council) and the Regional Rate (which is agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive). This money, along with the block grant that the Northern Ireland Executive receives from Westminster, is used to pay for public services. There are also differences in the Rates set for households and those set for businesses. These are known respectively as the Domestic and Non-Domestic Rates. Further information on this difference is provided below.

1. Domestic Rate

The Domestic Rate for 2017/2018 will be 0.3692 pence (2016/2017 equivalent 0.3596 pence) which is an increase of 2.66% for the Council element.

For a property valued at £100,000, the annual increase of the District Rate for 2017/18 will be £9.80 or 82 pence per month.

2. Non Domestic Rate

A 2.66% increase means the Non Domestic District Rate for 2017/2018 will be 22.9904 pence (2016/2017, 22.3951 pence).

Major Investment in our District

Council Chairperson Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick said: “The Council remains despite many challenges, committed to delivering on our strategic priorities, as set out in our Corporate Plan for the period 2015-2019.

“During 2017/2018 we will complete the construction of a major leisure centre, Newry Leisure Centre Phase 2 ,which will provide state of the art indoor leisure facilities including Gym, Sports Halls, Class Studios, Squash and Handball Courts, Café, Soft Play and other facilities. We will also continue the construction of our new Leisure Centre in Downpatrick also offering a wide range of high quality leisure facilities for completion in 2018/19. The internal upgrade of Newry Town Hall will be completed in 2017/18 and Camlough Lake will also open for water sports and activities in 2017/18.

“These major projects representing a combined investment of almost £39 million will provide our ratepayers with two very modern Leisure Facilities in addition to our other leisure, arts and cultural services currently available.

“The Council has also completed two key leisure strategies during the 2016/17 year, these being the Play Strategy and Sports Facilities Strategies. This will mean the Council will undertake substantial investment over the next 4-5 years in new and upgraded Play Facilities whilst also upgrading existing Sports Facilities including pitches and pavilions.

“Over the next 12 months the Council will:

* Develop an Environmental Improvement Scheme and Town Heritage Initiative in Downpatrick.
* Commence the Warrenpoint Municipal Park Regeneration Project.
* Undertake the Phase 2 Town Hall Newry Development.
* Develop a play park at Mayobridge and implement upgrades to play parks in Newcastle, Meigh, Killyleagh, Camlough, Castlewellan, bowling pavilions in Newcastle and Warrenpoint, Sports Pavilions at Ardglass, Dunleath and Bann Road, Ardglass football pitch, Carlingford Park Kickabout area as well as tennis facilities across the district.
* Progress the Saintfield Community Hub.
* Develop community facilities in Ballynahinch.
* Dredge Castle Park Boating Lake in Newcastle.
* Extend the Brown Bin Scheme (Food Waste Collection).
* Replace NI Direct call management for Planning with internal call management.
* Develop the Carlingford Louth Greenway Project in partnership with Louth County Council.
* Provide recycling for commercial properties in legacy Down District.
* Implement the Pavement Cafe legislation.”

Regenerating our District

Regeneration and Tourism have been clearly identified by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council as a key area of priority within the Corporate Plan. The further development of tourism and the economy is seen as pivotal in achieving the corporate vision to create opportunities for local people and local communities to thrive by supporting sustainable economic growth over time and helping them to lead fulfilling lifestyles.

The Council has committed to the regeneration of the district through town and city masterplans. This will be realised through the development and implementation of revitalisation plans for Newry and Warrenpoint and the commencement of Downpatrick’s Irish Street public realm scheme in the Summer of 2017 together with a Townscape Heritage Initiative.

Council will continue to work in partnership with Invest NI, Strategic Investment Board and Kilkeel Strategic Partnership in the development of plans to extend Kilkeel Harbour.

Camlough Lake Rehabilitation will complete in May 2017 and Council will support the local community in the reopening of the lake for sport and recreation. The creation of a future vision and development plan for Castlewellan Forest Park has commenced with a view to developing funding applications to deliver an enhanced Castlewellan Park Experience.

Work on Warrenpoint Municipal Park will commence early 2017 and will see the restoration of the park to its former glory, the value of this project over 5 years is £1.49 million.

The £11 million Rural Development Programme will support development within our rural communities with the development and review of village plans and support for local businesses.

The Council will deliver the Business Start Programme which will support the establishment of new businesses across the district. The target is to deliver 255 Business plans and create 155 jobs in the district in 2017/18. There will be ongoing business development workshops across the district covering the themes of social media, tendering, e-commerce, branding, search engine optimisation and planning for succession.

The Council recognise that sustainable growth of tourism will be a key economic driver in the area. The Tourism Strategy for 2017 – 2021 will be launched early in 2017. The strategy will be realised through partnership working with government agencies, Tourism NI, Tourism Ireland and most critically our entrepreneurial and customer-focused industry.

Cllr Fitzpatrick added: “Working in partnership we will develop The Mournes and Ring of Gullion and Mourne Coastal Vistior Experience Development Plans. The emphasis will be on animating the destination through stories and interpretation, vibrant gateway and hub communities; festivals and events and appropriate services from local businesses.”

Enhancing our Communities

The Council will continue to work closely with the local community and voluntary sector and with other Government Departments to lever in external funding in support of our communities. It is  leading on the local delivery of the Social Investment Fund, which is funded through the Northern Ireland Executive’s Office, over £2 million of funding has been approved to provide 3G pitches in Downpatrick, Ballyhornan and Kilcooley and redevelop Castlewellan Community Centre into a modern and accessible venue for the community.

Approximately £4.25million of funding under the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme has been offered to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. This funding will be used to support a number of locally based projects and initiatives that will promote positive relations between people from different communities and backgrounds.

The Council will continue to provide opportunities for our communities to access funding for local projects across a number key areas, specifically; community engagement, community events, summer schemes, community safety and good relations.

The Council remains committed to supporting our community sector in the development of both community infrastructure and capital projects. It also aims to continue to build partnerships with local groups and directly support and deliver much needed community centre provision on the ground. Community engagement also remains a priority for Council and we have established 7 District Electoral Areas Forums. We will continue to support the implementation of the Community Plan via input at operational, thematic and strategic levels.

The “Down your Street, Live Here Love There” grant scheme providing funding between £500- £3000 for a range of environmental projects emphasising civic pride will also be extended.

Further commenting on setting the Rates for 2017/’18, Chairperson of Council Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick said: “The Council continues to face very challenging demands in today’s environment and we are pleased following much consideration and discussion to be able to strike a rate which reflects citizens expectations at this time. We have ensured there is no negative bearing on service delivery to our citizens during these demanding times as we seek to continue to deliver the high quality service our citizens expect and deserve.

“I wish to thank my fellow Councillors and Senior Management for their cooperation in and commitment to achieving a realistic rate for 2017/’18.”

Mr Liam Hannaway, Council Chief Executive, added: “We have now completed the second year of our Corporate Plan 2015-2019. This will mean bringing many of our key projects to fruition in 2017/18. Our commitment to developing the District’s leisure and play infrastructure will enhance the quality of life of all our citizens. The many and varied key events we held and supported raised the profile of this area on a local, national, and international basis and enhanced the economic wealth of our district.

“The regeneration of the district remains a key priority and throughout 2017/’18 the Council will continue to lead on this whilst levering major funding for the area. We will continue to engage closely with our communities to develop their capacity and through our Community Plan we will work together with all our partner agencies and stakeholders to achieve agreed outcomes for the benefit of all.”