Disagreement among parties as Cookstown set rates increase of 0.9%

Cookstown'Main Street
Cookstown'Main Street

Cookstown District Council have set a rates increase for the next year of 0.9%.

The decision was made at the monthly council meeting on Tuesday night.

This is the last year that Cookstown District Council will set the rates before the Mid Ulster Super Council comes into place in 2015.

There were disagreements among the councillors over what the rates should be fixed at, with six councillors arguing for the rate to be fixed at 0%.

When put to the vote, 10 councillors voted for the 0.9% increase in rates for the year, with six opposing the increase.

DUP MLA Ian McCrea, who recently stepped down from council voiced his anger at Sinn Fein and SDLP councillors for voting through the 0.9% increase.

Mr McCrea said: “Having previously called on all local councils in the Mid Ulster area to set a 0% rate increase, I welcome the news that Magherafelt and Dungannon Councils have did just that but want to condemn those on Cookstown District Council who voted through the 0.9% increase.

“I want to commend my DUP colleagues on the Council alongside the UUP Councillors for opposing any increase which is what the rate payers of Cookstown deserved.

“I want to make it clear that I am not attacking the officers, who I know over the years whilst I sat on council made every effort to keep the rates as low as possible, however I do feel that a 0% rate was possible without negatively affecting front line services.

“It is now over to the Sinn Fein and SDLP Councillors on Cookstown Council to explain to the rate payers across the district why they forced through this increase and why they are so out of touch from the reality of the financial difficulties still being felt.”

SDLP Councillor James McGarvey, speaking at the council meeting on Tuesday night said the cost of litter collection and street cleaning was the big issue for the council.

He said: “If people would only pick up their litter and put it in the bins it would save us all a lot of money. With around half a million pound spent on street cleaning, that is money that could be saved.

“People who drop litter are the problem and they are causing the problem of higher rates.”

He continued saying that a 0.9% increase proposed by the council was still a very small figure and he commended the staff of the council for their great efficiency.”