Monday 22 October 2018 09:47:47 PM

Hazzard Calls for Full Rate Relief for Local Sports Clubs
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SINN Féin’s South Down MLA Chris Hazzard has asked the Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson to allow local sports clubs to avail of a discretionary 100% rates relief in order to help local communities in these difficult economic times.

Mr Hazzard said: “Many of our local sports clubs across the county, including many of our long established GAA, Soccer, and Rugby clubs are struggling to survive at the minute due to severe financial pressures. While most of our sports clubs are entitled to a discretionary 80% rates relief, a decision by the Finance Minister to extend this to 100% would make a huge difference to those in need.

“I have visited a wide variety of sports clubs throughout South Down lately, and to a large extent the common theme has been serious financial concerns. Considering that so many of our sports clubs remain the heart of our local communities it is a deeply worrying situation.

“In some instances we have clubs unable to staff, or indeed even heat their premises, and for many rural clubs this can have a devastating impact and exacerbate a community’s sense of rural isolation.

Mr Hazzard added: “With rising levels of obesity amongst our young people, and a real need to tackle a variety of health issues across the county, including mental health, the vital role of our local sports clubs in promoting and sustaining personal and community wellbeing must not be overlooked.“I have called on the Finance Minister to do all in his power to help lift the financial burden on our local sports clubs and there is no better place to start than to allow local clubs to avail of a discretionary 100% rates relief.”