£2.5 million Magee rates too much: Diver

The Ulster University Magee campus, Derry. DER3115MC002
The Ulster University Magee campus, Derry. DER3115MC002

SDLP MLA Gerard Diver says some of the millions of pounds in rates paid by the University of Ulster for Magee should be used to help pay for the campus’ expansion.

He says Magee has had to fork out almost £2.5million in rates in the last five years.

“Despite decades of good will statements, ten years of plans from the One Plan to the Community Development plan, we have only been able to watch as the impact of the institution deteriorates,” he said.

The MLA who entered the Assembly having previously worked as an employment consultant and party leader on Derry City Council, said: “This is not directed at the Minister of Employment who has suffered repeated budget reductions due to the financial illiteracy which has marked this Sinn Féin/DUP Executive. However it would not be difficult for the Assembly to prove their commitment to the campus?

“There are some small immediate steps we can take to alleviate the pressures on Magee. It is not beyond the Executive to arrange a rates relief scheme where money paid to Land and Property Services could be redirected into funding additional courses for our young people. Perhaps establish bursaries for those socio-economic challenged members of the local community who may not otherwise be able to afford a third level education for example?

“The Minister for Employment and Learning previously confirmed to my party colleague and predecessor, Mr Pat Ramsey, that the Derry campus has contributed £2, 307, 486 since 2011 in non-domestic rates. I find it remarkable that an institution which exists entirely to invest in our young people, our future, is laboured with huge rates bills.

“Is this the best way to show government support for the Magee project?”