Sunday 21 October 2018 03:59:00 PM

SDLP Group Leader Speaks on Newy and Mourne New District Rate
More Storms Ahead For Dundrum Sea Wall February 12, 2013| Posted by | Comment on More Storms Ahead For Dundrum Sea Wall Comment

THE annual District Rate for Newry and Mourne Council has also been struck.

SDLP Newry and Morne Council Connaire McGreevy said: “We understand the pain being experienced by the householders and businesses of Newry and Mourne.  The objective of the SDLP group from the outset of negotiations on the issue of a new rate being struck was to have a zero increase.

“However, that in the current economic climate the agreement of a rate increase of 1.29 per cent was the best deal that could be hammered out. He said that when the initial negotiations started the Council was looking at potential increase of 7.37 per cent.

“Before going into the detailed breakdown of those discussions I want to put on record the appreciation of the SDLP for the efforts of Mr. Robert Downey, the Director of Finance, his staff and the rest of the management team for their efforts in delivering a comprehensive analysis of expenditure within their Departments.dn_screen

“By close of play after the first meeting with officials we had been able to downscale the projected rise to five per cent after the majority of Councillors had agreed to remove £500,000 for RPA.

“Eventually, after much frustration and anger the rate was struck at 1.29 per cent. If the regional rate is eventually decided at 2.7 per cent it will work out at 42 pence per week for every household with a capital rate of £100,000.”

Councillor McGreevy pointed out that the Council was facing the reality of having to fund a significant capital programme as part of a wide ranging programme to help bring development to the area.

“We have to face facts. The finance has to be found to cover the cost of a £9 million swimming pool, the completion of an events space in Kilbroney Park and the design of a regeneration scheme in Warrenpoint is part of a priority agenda.

“In addition the provision of a much needed car park in Newry’s Corry Square to help businesses with staff and customer parking in Monaghan Street will have to be paid for.

“Those objectives have to be placed in context against the key variances the Council was forced to deal with.

“They include the fact that wages and salaries have increased by £355k, a percentage increase of 1.48 per cent.  These were outside Councillor control as they are set in London.

The striking of the annual Council rate has been told that the SDLP understand the pain being experienced by the householders and businesses of Newry and Mourne.  And Councillor Connaire McGreevy told the meeting that the objective of the SDLP group from the outset of negotiations on the issue of a new rate being struck was to have a zero increase.

Councillor McGreevy said however that in the current economic climate the agreement of a rate increase of 1.29 per cent was the best deal that could be hammered out. He said that when the initial negotiations started the Council was looking at potential increase of 7.37 per cent.

“Before going into the detailed breakdown of those discussions I want to put on record the appreciation of the SDLP for the efforts of Mr. Robert Downey, the Director of Finance, his staff and the rest of the management team for their efforts in delivering a comprehensive analysis of expenditure within their Departments.

“By close of play after the first meeting with officials we had been able to downscale the projected rise to five per cent after the majority of Councillors had agreed to remove £500,000 for RPA.

“Eventually, after much frustration and anger the rate was struck at 1.29 per cent. If the regional rate is eventually decided at 2.7 per cent it will work out at 42 pence per week for every household with a capital rate of £100,000.”

dn_screenCouncillor McGreevy pointed out that the Council was facing the reality of having to fund a significant capital programme as part of a wide ranging programme to help bring development to the area.

“We have to face facts. The finance has to be found to cover the cost of a £9 million swimming pool, the completion of an events space in Kilbroney Park and the design of a regeneration scheme in Warrenpoint is part of a priority agenda.

“In addition the provision of a much needed car park in Newry’s Corry Square to help businesses with staff and customer parking in Monaghan Street will have to be paid for.

“Those objectives have to be placed in context against the key variances the Council was forced to deal with.

“They include the fact that wages and salaries have increased by £355k, a percentage increase of 1.48 per cent.  These were outside Councillor control as they are set in London.

“Building Control has seen a massive decrease in revenue as a result of a drop in applications because of the reduction in building activity and the depressed property market.

“It is vital that as a Council we collectively work to promote development across the area.

“There are however a number of positives that we have to highlight. Tesco, for example, has started to the build a large superstore that in the future will help bring a significant increase in rates finance to the Council.

“We have also contacted the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister in order to ensure that they develop an economic strategy that has properly functioning economic levers.

“We need the implementation of devolved power on issues such as Landfill Tax in order to reduce this burden in the future.”

Mr. McGreevy said that the level of contributions designed to help community groups had risen by to £1.23 million.

“This additional cash will help voluntary organisations provide specific support in ways that perhaps the Council would not have been able to do.

“But the issue is one that will require serious examination well before we start the negotiations in relation to next year’s rate,” Councillor McGreevy stressed.

The SDLP Group leader warned that while his Party had a number of ideas as to how to lighten the rates burden, the combination of legal and procurement reasons meant that they were unable to deliver on them.

“We have however been able to protect front line services without, after five drafts, being able to achieve our target of a zero rates increase.

“The positive element of this debate between management and Councillors is that we have achieved a rate increase below inflation.

“We have already started the conversation with the Senior Management team in order to explore ways of achieving our zero increase targets in the coming year,” Mr. McGreevy added.

“Building Control has seen a massive decrease in revenue as a result of a drop in applications because of the reduction in building activity and the depressed property market.

“It is vital that as a Council we collectively work to promote development across the area.

“There are however a number of positives that we have to highlight. Tesco, for example, has started to the build a large superstore that in the future will help bring a significant increase in rates finance to the Council.

“We have also contacted the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister in order to ensure that they develop an economic strategy that has properly functioning economic levers.

“We need the implementation of devolved power on issues such as Landfill Tax in order to reduce this burden in the future.”

Mr. McGreevy said that the level of contributions designed to help community groups had risen by to £1.23 million.

“This additional cash will help voluntary organisations provide specific support in ways that perhaps the Council would not have been able to do.

“But the issue is one that will require serious examination well before we start the negotiations in relation to next year’s rate,” Councillor McGreevy stressed.

The SDLP Group leader warned that while his Party had a number of ideas as to how to lighten the rates burden, the combination of legal and procurement reasons meant that they were unable to deliver on them.

“We have however been able to protect front line services without, after five drafts, being able to achieve our target of a zero rates increase.

“The positive element of this debate between management and Councillors is that we have achieved a rate increase below inflation.

“We have already started the conversation with the Senior Management team in order to explore ways of achieving our zero increase targets in the coming year,” Councillor McGreevy added.