Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council ‘sets lowest rates increase since mergers’

ANTRIM and Newtownabbey Borough Council says it has maintained its record of the lowest rates increase across Northern Ireland since the Council mergers in 2015.

A press release said: “The Council’s continued commitment to supporting businesses within our Borough has resulted in a reduction in the business rate this year of 3.54%.

“There has been a small increase on the residential rate of just 1.99%. This is less than the current rate of inflation of 2.2%* and is equivalent to an extra 15p per week on an average residential property.

“Keeping the rates low hasn’t been without its challenges given the inflationary pressures we are facing with salaries, energy and waste disposal.

“Savings of £6M are planned over the next ten years with changes in the delivery of our waste collection. However, overall costs have unavoidably increased by £1.5M mainly due to salary costs of £560K, energy costs of £140K and waste disposal costs of £800K.

“The changes in waste collection will realise a saving of £500K and this has allowed the Council to absorb some of the unavoidable increases.

“Across the Borough, we have attracted significant investment by granting planning permission for a number of large projects over the last 12 months with an estimated value in excess of £25M. We also continue to invest in our considerable assets through an ongoing Capital Investment Programme,” the press release says.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman John Smyth, said: “Careful financial planning will allow us to invest in projects to support the businesses in our Borough and focus on job creation through partnership opportunities such as Belfast Region City Deal”.

The Council agreed its District Rate at a Special Council meeting tonight which will come into effect on 1 April 2020.

Residents rate bills are made up of the District Rate set by the Council and the Regional Rate, which is determined by the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Regional rate is the same across all Council areas and has not yet been set.

The Council is planning to deliver the following investments in 2020-21:

· Town Centre Improvements

· Antrim Forum Fitness Suite Refurbishment

· A Skateboard Park at V36

· Major improvements at Rathfern Community Centre

· Antrim Stadium Track refurbishment

· Continuous investment at Leisure Centres including Antrim Forum car park and Phase II of the Football mini pitches at Valley Leisure Centre

· Crumlin & Rathcoole Allotments

· Ongoing investment in Parks including Sixmile Water Park and Three Mile Water Park

3G Pitch – Antrim Grammar School and Parkhall Integrated College.

· Refurbishments of the Council’s Car Parks

The Council successfully delivered the following capital projects in 2019-2020:

· Opening of The Gateway Centre, a new flagship project at Antrim Lough Shore

· Major improvements at Lilian Bland and Rathcoole Playparks

· Improved access in Leisure Centres including Pool Pods and Changing Places in Antrim Forum and the Valley Leisure Centre

· New Spa facilities at the Valley Leisure Centre

· Refurbishment of the Fitness Suite at Sixmile Leisure Centre

· New Mossley – Active Travel Route

*The RPI Rate of Inflation quoted is 2.2% from December 2019.

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