Newry.ie

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has today agreed its budget for the next financial year (from the 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017) with a 1.94% increase in the District Rate, an investment which they hope will help regenerate the district, make better use of resources and help towards the completion of capital projects such as a new Civic Centre for Newry as well as projects throughout the district.

Representing a 1.94% increase in the District Rate, this moderate increase will cover the cost of the public services the Council is responsible for, including:  a wide range of environmental services such as refuse collection and street cleansing, the economic regeneration of our District, the provision of leisure and community facilities, as well as those services which transferred from central government last year, including Planning. 

Marcus Square, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Marcus Square, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

What does this mean for Ratepayers in Newry, Mourne & Down?

The Rates that you pay every year are made-up of the District Rate (which is agreed by the Council) and the Regional Rate (which is agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive). This money, along with the block grant that the Northern Ireland Executive receives from Westminster, is used to pay for public services. There are also differences in the Rates set for households and those set for businesses. These are known respectively as the Domestic and Non-Domestic Rates. Further information on this difference is provided below.

Domestic Rate

The Domestic Rate for 2016/2017 will be 0.3596 pence (2015/2016 equivalent 0.3528 pence) which is an increase of 1.94% for the Council element.  The Regional Rate (set by NI Assembly) will be 0.4111 pence (0.4042 pence in 2015/2016).

When these two figures are added together for a property valued at £100,000, the annual rate is estimated at £770.74 for 2016/2017, (£756.98 for 2015/2016). This represents an overall increase of 1.82% and is equivalent to less than an additional £13.76 per annum which equates to 26 pence per week.

Non Domestic Rate

The Non Domestic District Rate for 2016/2017 will be 22.3951 pence (2015/2016 21.9679 pence).  The Non Domestic Regional Rate indicated for 2016/2017 will be 32.400 pence (2015/2016, 31.8600 pence).

Investing in our District

Although less than 12 months old and despite the enormous challenges presented by Local Government Reform, the council are committed to delivering on their strategic priorities, as set-out in the Corporate Plan for the period 2015-2019. A key part of this commitment is investing over £27 Million, this incoming year alone, in new facilities for the District.

This includes the already started construction of two major leisure centres, one in Newry and the other in Downpatrick. These major projects represent a combined investment of £19.4 Million and once completed, will enhance the portfolio of leisure facilities and services currently available. As well as supporting improved health and wellbeing outcomes for local people, they will also provide important employment opportunities in the local area. 

Over the next 12 months, the council will invest in:

Ballynahinch Weather Pitch Upgrade

Repairs to Camlough Lake

Downpatrick Football Club

Dunleath Pavilion Upgrade

Warrenpoint Municipal Park

Downpatrick Recycling Centre

Drumanakelly Transfer Station

Slieve Gullion Toilet Block

Annalong Harbour

Lough Inch Cemetery

Forkhill Regeneration

Kilbroney Park

Regenerating our District

The council consider the regeneration of the District as the number one priority and as part of this will be taking forward a number of important initiatives over the next 12 months. 

These include: securing an additional £11 Million of external funding over the next four years through the delivery of the Rural Development Programme; delivering on a range of economic regeneration projects including major public realm schemes in both Warrenpoint and Newry to the value of £2.9 Million; as well as establishing a new economic forum in partnership with the local private and voluntary sectors and other public sector organisations.

They will also continue to work closely with the local community and voluntary sector and with other Government Departments to lever in external funding in support of our communities.  The council are leading on the local delivery of the Social Investment Fund, which is funded through the Northern Ireland Executive’s Office of the First Minister & Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).  This year also sees the start of consultation for the new Peace IV Programme.  In partnership with the local community and voluntary sector they will be developing and implementing an action plan to build positive relationships across the entire District.

The Event Space at Marcus Square in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The Event Space at Marcus Square in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Making Better Use of Resources

Better using our resources to support better outcomes for local people is also an important priority. The council have recently established a Working Group to look at how we best use land and property assets, as well as to examine further development opportunities with the private sector.  This work will support the development of a new Civic Centre for Newry, as well as the development of a gateway leisure facility for Newcastle. This latter project forms part of our wider plans to maximise the enormous tourism potential of the area and will be supported by a new Tourism Strategy which will be launched in May 2016.

The transformation and modernisation of council services are also a priority with the aim of delivering greater value for money for Ratepayers.

Council also currently working with DCAL and Sport NI to prepare a Sports Facility Strategy for the District. Setting out the priority developments for the next decade, this strategy will be published early in the new financial year and will coincide with the launch of Sport NI’s new capital grant programme. 

Commenting on the news, the Chairperson of Council Councillor Mickey Ruane said, “The new Council in its first year is operating in very challenging times and the Council is pleased following much negotiations and discussion to be able to strike a rate which seeks to reflect the low level of price increases currently being expressed by consumers. This has enabled us to ensure there is no detrimental impact on service delivery to our citizens during these challenging times as we seek to continue to deliver the high quality service our citizens expect and deserve.  I wish to thank my fellow Councillors and Senior Management for their co-operation in and commitment to achieving a realistic rate for 2016/17”.

Mr Liam Hannaway, Chief Executive said, “We remain committed to delivering on implementing the strategic priorities within our Corporate Plan 2015-2019. It has been an exciting year, one where we have hosted international and national events in our district with Newry, Mourne and Down being showcased on a global basis. We have also begun our modernisation and transformational programme within Council including the integration of newly transferred functions from central government. Whilst the councillors continue to face the challenge of operating within very tight fiscal constraints and still deliver efficient and effective services to our citizens, we are delivering on major capital investment within the district. We will continue to advocate on our citizens behalf and lead the economic regeneration of this area whilst empowering and improving the capacity of our communities and we will work in partnership to seek opportunities to continue to lever substantial funding for the benefit of Newry Mourne and Down.”

Whilst the District Council sets the District Rate, it is Land and Property Services (as part of the Department for Finance & Personnel) that is responsible for collecting it.  Information on the breakdown of the Council rates is available on the Council website www.newrymournedown.org

 

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