Rates hike places too much of a burden on citizens: DUP

Guildhall Square in Londonderry
Guildhall Square in Londonderry

DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney says the agreement of a 2.58 per cent rates hike last week places an intolerable burden on local property owners.

Mr Devenney believes efficiency savings could’ve been found across the Council budget in order to shelter ratepayers from the 40 pence per week rise.

“The DUP has always been a party of low rates,” said Mr Devenney. “This year we opposed the rate increase of 2.58 per cent whilst Sinn Féin and the SDLP unanimously supported it.”

He added: “We have people coming to us who are suffering fuel poverty, food poverty, all sorts of hardship and this just places a further burden on them.”

The Sentinel asked Mr Devenney how the Council would pay for its extensive services and programme of events without increasing rates.

Mr Devenney replied: “Well, if you look at other Councils such as that of the first city, Belfast, and also in Limavady, they have been able to operate with zero increases. Last year, a few months into the UK City of Culture, we were able to strike a rate of 1.9 per cent. We believe savings could have been made to avoid this 2.58 per cent rise.”

Last week SDLP Councillor Gerard Diver said: “Our commitment to capital expenditure is part of our overall strategic approach in terms of investing in the future to ensure the city will see huge benefits in terms of regeneration and economic investment.”