Mid and East Antrim ‘rates freeze’ proposal disappointment

Cllr Timothy Gaston.
Cllr Timothy Gaston.

TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston has expressed disappointment that his rates freeze proposal was rejected by Mid and East Antrim Council.

Commenting after the local authority agreed a 1.98% district rate increase, Mr Gaston outlined a series of efficiency measures, including in Larne and Carrickfergus, which he said would have:

“Removed the £150,000 allocated for the upgrade of the Larne chamber until the future of the Larne chamber is clear saving £5,300;

“Removed the extra £39,000 of fat that was added on top of the £111,000 detailed business case for the upgrade of Carrick chamber saving £1,400;

“Found the additional funding requested for the Northern Ireland Open from private advertising or efficiencies elsewhere in the council budget rather than simply lumping the cost straight on the ratepayer.

“Cut the lavish £20,000 budget for hospitality for elected members by £5,000 - which would still allow for £1,250 per month or £31.25 per elected member per month, a sum I am sure is much more than most ratepayers would consider ample;

“Saved the £25,500 we spend on posting Connection magazines three times a year. Our waste teams deliver green bags to householders throughout the borough three times a year.”

He said these measures together with some others and a modest parking charge of £1 for five hours across the six council-owned free car parks would have enabled them to “freeze the rate”.

Council said the rate it set was aimed at easing the impact on citizens whilst safeguarding major investment plans for Mid and East Antrim and had been achieved by sweeping efficiency savings (see: https://www.larnetimes.co.uk/news/business/mid-and-east-antrim-district-rate-rises-by-1-98-per-cent-1-8810279).