Main parties say rate increase is balanced

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The main polticial parties on Derry City and Strabane District Council broadly welcomed the balance struck by the new district rate increase for 2017/18, agreeing it would fund ongoing council investment without hammering homeowners and businesses too severely.

Members of Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the DUP congratulated council officers for fully engaging with all members during the rate process.

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming pledged his party’s support for the proposed rates increase.

He said: “It is set out very clearly in Alfie and the Chief Executive’s report that this council has always had an ambition to grow and invest in terms of our economic growth and development and the services we provide.”

SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly also welcomed the rate increase.

He said Mr. Kelpie and Mr. Dallas’ reports had outlined in “detail that right across the length and breadth of the city and district we will be able to improve services for the people of the council area.”

He added: “It represents a balance between providing these services and not putting a burden on ratepayers.”

Councillor Reilly also used the striking of the rate to reiterate his parties call for a City Deal for Derry and the establishment of business enterprise zone, which he said would help local non-domestic ratepayers, in particular.

Alderman Drew Thompson, from the fiscally conservative DUP, also said he thought the rate increase struck a good balance by protecting pockets while promoting investment.

“We, as a party, strive to get the lowest rates we possibly can for local ratepayers,” he said.

But he added: “It think we have come up with a rate that is reasonable and will allow us to invest and provide services for the city and district going forward.”