The Ulster Unionist Party has launched its local government manifesto for the new Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.
In a joint statement the Party’s council candidates for the Banbridge DEA Councillors Glenn Barr, Ian Burns and Elizabeth Ingram, along with the candidates in the new Lagan River DEA, Cllr Carol Black, Cllr Olive Mercer and Marc Woods said: “This is a very important election for the people of the Banbridge DEA and Lagan River. The reduction from 26 councils down to 11 will present a number of major challenges, not least the sheer cost of it.
“It is imperative that already overstretched ratepayers are not made to pay for these changes through an increase in their rates. Stormont insisted on these changes and therefore we believe it is only fair that the Northern Ireland Executive makes additional funds available to help support local councils. It is either that or the costs, running into several million pounds locally, will have to be met through a reduction in services or an increase in rates. Either of those two would be totally wrong.
“Subsequently in our local manifesto we have said that the new Council should from the very outset commit to ensuring that zero percent of the cost of these reforms are passed down to local ratepayers. Any other way would be completely unfair.
“The new Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council will have a raft of new powers from planning, off street car parking to support local business start-up schemes. The Ulster Unionist Party believes it is essential that this opportunity is fully grasped in order to get the best deal possible for people locally.”
Other local priorities for Dromore and Banbridge in the Party’s local manifesto include ensuring local public residential care homes are allowed to remain open by lifting the totally unsustainable non-admissions policies currently in place at Skeagh House and Crozier House; giving local amateur sports clubs 100% rates relief like that currently available in England; making sure that the Land and Property Service take a common sense approach when collecting rates from businesses which are in financial difficulty; using the new off street car parking responsibilities to specifically target and incentivise support for local businesses on streets and town centres, as well as opposing any roll out of on-street parking charges.
The local manifesto can be obtained from any of the UUP election candidates or online at www.uup.org.