Speculation over household rates freeze in Cookstown

Cookstown'Main Street
Cookstown'Main Street

Tensions are mounting as Cookstown councillors prepare to deliver their final rates bill ahead of the super-council merger, which could see future bills rise significantly.

On Tuesday, DUP MLA Ian McCrea, who recently stepped down as a Councillor upped the ante by calling on all three councils in new Mid Ulster area to strike a 0% rate increase.

But it understood that councillors have yet to reach agreement on the rates, which is expected to be delivered next week.

Sinn Fein appeared to pour cold water on the zero per cent increase, saying it would impact on the delivery of service to Cookstown resident.

Mr McCrea said: “I feel that it is important to encourage the Council’s in the Mid Ulster area to agree a 0% rates increase. “I believe that by striking a 0% rate will be a an excellent note to go out on and one that the people of Cookstown and Magherafelt deserve.

“My DUP colleagues on Cookstown and Magherafelt Councils will be supporting a 0% rate, therefore I would call on all other parties to follow suit when making a final decision.”

Cookstown UUP Councillor Trevor Wilson told the MAIL: “Cookstown Council has always strived over the years to keep the rates as low as possible and we are working on that presently. This year, like every other year we hope to keep the rates as low as we can, but the biggest impact will come in a couple of years time when the full force of the RPA will hit the rate payer, in a process which is being driven forward by the two largest parties. At present most councils within the Mid-Ulster cluster are looking at their reserves and their borrowing levels in this process.”

Sinn Fein Councillor for Cookstown Sean Clarke told the MAIL: “We have to realise that costs are always increasing so it is alright for somebody to say 0% but, 0% would actually mean that you will finish up delivering less.

“We would like to think that what we will do which will be for the best of the area and the best of our residents is what we are aiming towards.”