Last night's Newry, Mourne and Down District Council meeting in Downpatrick saw the council budget agreed and district rate struck for 2018-2019.

Representing a 3.38% increase in the District Rate, this 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 the District, the provision of leisure and community facilities and planning.

During the coming year, the regeneration of Newry itself will be advanced, with plans for a new Civic Centre that will increase the facilities for art and culture. The Canal area of Newry is also being given a facelift, with restoration work on the Newry Canal Lock No 5 at Carnbane. Once completed, it will encourage both visitors and local people to use the towpath, while Warrenpoint Municipal Park will undergo a total regeneration and restoration through an award of £850,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Further EU funds of €3.4 million under the INTERREG VA programme, have been secured to continue phase 2 of the Greenway project. The project is creating a cross border green travel route from Newry to Carlingford and phase 2 will bring the Greenway from the Weir on the Middlebank to Omeath and from Carlingford Marina to Carlingford.

Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down Council Roisin Mulgrew thanked councillors and the council's senior management for achieving a "reasonable and realistic rate for 2018/19 and added, “When the Council sets the rate it is mindful of the importance of fulfilling our commitments to all our citizens, while at the same time ensuring that we are aware of the difficult economic circumstances many of our ratepayers, both domestic and non-domestic are experiencing.”

“We believe that the Council has been very careful in setting a realistic rate for 2018/19; and that this will allow us to continue to develop the wellbeing of our citizens, the economic prosperity of our area—as well as ensuring the delivery of high quality services that our residents require and expect.”

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew and Chief Executive Liam Hannaway launch the latest edition of NMD Connect 2018 incorporating Annual Report 2017/2018.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew and Chief Executive Liam Hannaway launch the latest edition of NMD Connect 2018 incorporating Annual Report 2017/2018.

The Rates that residents of the district pay are made-up of the District Rate (which is agreed by the Council) and the Regional Rate (which is usually agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive). This money, along with the block grant that Northern Ireland receives from Westminster, is used to pay for public services. Two set of rates have been agreed as part of the District Rate: the Domestic Rate (for householders) and the Non-Domestic Rate (for business).

The Domestic Rate for 2018/2019 will be 0.3817 pence (2017/2018 equivalent 0.3692 pence).  For a property valued at £100,000, the annual increase of the District Rate for 2018/19 will be £12.50 or £1.04 per month.

A 3.38% increase means the Non Domestic District Rate for 2018/2019 will be 23.7668 pence (2017/2018, equivalent 22.9904 pence).

Chief Executive of the Council Liam Hannaway added, “During the 2017/18 financial year, our Council has continued to deliver both the services and key projects that were agreed in our Corporate Plan 2015-19. We have reduced the amount of waste collected in black bins, while at the same time, increasing the organic waste collected by more than a third. “

“Over the past year, we were gratified to open the new £22 million Newry Leisure Centre and, at the same time, launched our Be Active campaign to improve the health and wellbeing of all our citizens. We are no less ambitious for the coming year as we open a new Down Leisure Centre – all of these developments will go a long way to making our district the leader in encouraging a more healthy and active lifestyle.”

“Our 24 newly updated Village Plans and 18 new Village Plans will see £2.1 million for Warrenpoint to upgrade lighting, pavements, signage and planting while Newry will benefit from £860,000. A further £100,000 will be dedicated to the Cathedral Corridor; both of these schemes are being carried out in conjunction with the Department for Communities.”

“Our partnerships with government Departments, the EU and other jurisdictions across Ireland and Britain are continuing to help us revitalise and regenerate our district and we will ensure that this remains a priority for the coming year.”

Improving public services from now until 2030 is the goal of the new Community Plan and is an ambitious vision for the district. The plan, entitled Living Well Together, identifies five key outcomes for local people including a clean and sustainable environment, respectful, vibrant and prosperous communities, and ensuring that everyone can fulfil their potential. Over the coming months, the Council will be working with local groups to ensure that their views on how best to implement these important goals.

NMD Connect Magazine

Prior to the Council Meeting held on Monday 5 February 2018, Chairperson Councillor Roisin Mulgrew launched the Council’s NMD Connect magazine.  This publication is produced annually to keep residents informed about what services, facilities, projects and programmes the Council has delivered over the past year and what it intends to do over the coming year. This year NMD Connect also incorporates the Council’s Annual Report.  The magazine is available to download via the Council's website: Printed copies of the magazine are also available in the Council's public buildings or a copy can be posted to homes within the district upon request.

An Irish language version will be published online and other formats can be made available upon request by emailing: or by telephoning 028 4461 0841

A very large and ambitious capital programme

Commenting on the Rates decision Cllr Michael Ruane said "Sinn Fein has always approached the setting of our Councils District Rates realistically in an open and honest fashion.  Our guiding principle being that of providing positive strategic leadership which will adequately deliver for the ratepayers of the Newry, Mourne & Down areas.

"Our Councillors involved in Rates discussions worked with all others, Councillors and Officials, to strike the right balance between protecting our front line services and where possible  reducing our costs whilst delivering high quality, value for money services and investing in our District. Our discussions have concluded with all elected representatives agreeing to a District Rate increase of 3.38%.

"The Council has agreed a very large and ambitious capital programme which impacts on every single district electoral area within the council. We have some very important projects which will improve the health and well-being of all our citizens. Money is also being spent on environmental projects to increase recycling rates and strategic tourist projects. This is a budget that consolidates our present services but also plans for the future of our next generations of citizens"

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