Alliance proposal to cut £500k from rates increase fails

An Alliance Party proposal to reduce the Belfast City Council rates increase and set up a new support package for bonfires was defeated at Committee by SF, DUP, SDLP and PBP.

Belfast City Council Michael Long


The proposal would have cut the Summer Diversionary Scheme fund of £500k and set up a new fund for 2024 which would focus on capacity building for those communities involved in bonfires.


Councillor Michael Long said, 'We have seen the huge impact of the cost of living crisis in recent months, most recently in the heavily oversubscribed Council Hardship Fund.


'We believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that the rates increase is minimised and this £500k cut would see the increase reduced from 7.99% to 7.7%. At this stage every penny counts and many people will wonder why we need this scheme, in which over half of the fund is spent on Performance Artists, DJs, Stage management, security, marquees and planning.


'At this time, I don't think spending ratepayers money on DJs which are bought in for concerts can be justified.


'We recognise the need to tackle bonfire issues, but simply using diversionary means does not address the fundamental issues in communities with bonfires.  


'We want a scheme which will actually build capacity and we want a new scheme for 2024 which would make long-term impacts rather than being a sticking plaster.


'Unfortunately, other parties opposed our proposal, so ratepayers will continue to fund this diversionary fund, which fundamentally avoids dealing with the problem.'