All posts by Sharon-Louise Trimble

Super Council’s and Ratepayers Clash over Bills

Figures from the Department of Finance have shown that up to 350,000 households in Northern Ireland have been affected by increased rates due to the formation of the super councils.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has said that the people affected will be able to get a discount and that he will address the increases which are a direct result of the creation of the new councils.

Mr Hamilton said: “Differences have built up in the level of district rates chargeable by the old councils and those that will be chargeable under the new larger councils”.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has said there is help for ratepayers
Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has said there is help for ratepayers

The executive has put aside £30 million to assist ratepayers.

The SDLP’s Alex Attwood has previously said that more help is needed for ratepayers. Mr Attwood said: “The consequence of convergence is that the rate burden will change within the new council areas. If anyone is pretending otherwise they are not being fully honest with people.

“Thirty million was secured by me to help that transition, and if hard figures are coming in that say the burden is even greater than people might have anticipated, then there should be a budget discussion in order to help people to ensure there is no further burden placed upon them.”

The SDLP's ALex Attwood has criticised the lack of assistance for householders
The SDLP’s ALex Attwood has criticised the lack of assistance for householders

The District Rate Subsidy scheme only applies to domestic and non-domestic ratepayers in certain areas and the only exceptions are public bodies and social housing landlords where rates are already standardised.

Mr Hamilton continued: “The scheme will be of most benefit, however, to the 23,000 Lisburn, Castlereagh and North Down ratepayers falling within the new boundary of Belfast City Council, as well as around 30,000 ratepayers in Fermanagh that will be served by the new Fermanagh and Omagh Council.

“Typically, an average domestic ratepayer in these areas will receive a discount of around £40 or £50 off their rate bill this year.

“Castlereagh ratepayers who are moving into Belfast will, on average, get a discount of around £90.”

26 district councils have been replaced by 11 super councils
26 district councils have been replaced by 11 super councils

An elderly couple from Loughbrickland, who are under the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have seen their rates rise due to the new super council.

Mrs Graham said: “There are just so many bills to face it’s hard to cope to sometimes. I know there is a scheme to help but it will probably not make much difference. The councils need to think about the community when they decide to do these things because some of us just can’t afford any more bills”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) said: “The new councils are free to strike whatever rate they consider appropriate to meet their new expenditure needs.

“DFP expects that, where there is a significant disparity between the existing councils that are coming together, the new district rate will be struck at a level that lies between the existing district rates but DFP cannot control this in any way.”

Northern Ireland’s 26 district councils were replaced by 11 larger, super councils on the 1st April 2015 and while they continue to provide the same services as the previous councils they also have a number of new powers and responsibilities.

These include:

  • Off-street parking (except park and ride)
  • Local economic development
  • Community planning process
  • Control of alterations, extensions and demolition of listed buildings
  • Conservation area designation and management

Van Gaal accuses his players of complacency after Everton defeat

Manchester United witnessed another defeat on Sunday (26th April) after losing 3-0 to Everton. The match, held at Goodison Park inflicted a second Premier League loss on Louis van Gaal’s side.

While the game ended in defeat for Manchester United, van Gaal must have been glad that he would not suffer the same fate as his predecessor. David Moyes was famously sacked last April, only ten months into his job, following a 2-0 defeat against Roberto Martinez’s team.

While Manchester United went into Sunday’s match as favourites to win, Gary Neville believes that Everton’s win was aided by a clear, well thought out game plan. He said; “Roberto Martinez prides himself on being a possession manager but today he resigned himself to sitting off a little, and playing a little deeper”.

Martinez celebrates Everton's goal
Martinez celebrates Everton’s goal

Goals from man-of-the match James McCarthy, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas gained Everton their biggest victory against United since October 1984.

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Kevin Mirallas scored Everton’s final goal in their 3-0 triumph over United

Mark Jardine, a Manchester United supporter was at the match. He said: “They (Manchester United) had the majority of ball possession but Everton counter attacked well. Our defence was bad and Everton got an early lead when they scored in the first five minutes”. He added: “It was all downhill from there for United”.

While supporters of the Red Devils are still behind their team, Louis van Gaal accused his players of complacency. He said: “It is the first time that I have seen our motivation, inspiration and aggression was not so high as the opponent”.

Marouane Fellaini missed a golden opportunity to equalise seven minutes into the game. He blazed from over 20 yards but his presence on the team meant United’s attacking sense was predictable. This was highlighted just before half-time when Everton scored for the second time. At half-time van Gaal changed his approach replacing Fellaini with Radamel Falcao. Juan Mata was also substituted at 63 minutes by Di Maria. Mirallas heightened Manchester United’s misery when he scored at 74 minutes, Everton’s third goal.

Manchester United were labelled 'toothless' after their performance on Sunday
Manchester United were labelled ‘toothless’ after their performance on Sunday

The match showed that United need to up their game and the absence of centre midfielder, Michael Carrick exposed their lack of pace up-front.

The Beauty of Bakewell

The Derbyshire market town of Bakewell is the perfect retreat for those wishing to escape their busy everyday lives. Nestled in the heart of the Peak District, the characterful town features cobbled streets, old fashioned tea rooms and great pubs. The River Wye runs through the town and the relaxing trickle of water with ducks walking on the footpath helps you feel a million miles away from the normal drudgery of life.

The River Wye runs through Bakewell
The River Wye runs through Bakewell

When I visited, the town was bustling with tourists who had come for the Bakewell Show. The annual event attracts thousands of spectators and includes horses, sheep, amusements and stalls for people of all ages. If you visit, the aptly named, Bakewell Fish and Chips is a must for the traditional British meal. The service is friendly and it is the best takeaway meal I have ever had.

However if you would prefer a more sophisticated dining experience, Bakewell is not short of places. The Wheatshef, Piedaniels and H’s Wine Bar are just a few of the town’s restaurants. In particular, The Peacock is excellent. As part of a dinner party of seven I can say on behalf of everyone that our meals where terrific. From portion sizes to presentation The Peacock could not be faulted.

The Peacock is a 200 year old traditional market town inn
The Peacock is a 200 year old traditional market town inn

Bakewell’s charms are in abundance, with its attractive courtyards, independent shops and a market held every Monday, it’s easy to see why it is such a popular tourist destination.

 

Bakewell provides an excellent point to travel from. Chatsworth House is less than five miles away. The nearby towns and villages of Matlock and Ashford-in-the-water provides a glimpse of the untouched beauty of the Peak District. Manchester is only an hour and fifteen minutes away and local attractions include The Heights of Abraham, Alton Towers and Poole’s Cavern. I could go on and on but there is one word to describe Bakewell and that is perfect. I cannot fault the beautiful town and all that comes with it. I believe it is an excellent holiday destination and if the British weather holds up it provides all that is needed for an escape.

Bakewell in bloom
Bakewell in bloom