Council Increases District Rates by 6.8 % for 2023/24
Ards and North Down Council Special Meeting (tonight 2nd February 2023)
At a special meeting this evening, the Council struck the district rate for the Borough for 2023/24. The rate rise is 6.8% for both domestic and
This is an increase of approximately £3 per month for the average household and £8 per month for the average business in the Borough.
Closing Speech of Tonights Special Meeting (edited)
Striking the rate is always a balance – between agreeing a figure that allows us to deliver the services and investments residents want while seeking to
ensure the financial burden placed on our ratepayers is as low as possible. The latter objective has been front of mind this year as we are all alive to the very real financial
pressures so many people and businesses in our Borough are facing.
As a corporate organisation, we too are experiencing those pressures.
Increases in inflation and energy costs are placing unprecedented pressure on our budgets.
These factors are further compounded by interest rate rises, public sector pay increases and uncertainty around future government funding.
Overall, we face increased cost pressures of between £9-10M in the coming financial year.
All 11 Councils across Northern Ireland are facing similar economic challenges. Each local authority has flexibility in how to meet the challenges
but must ensure their plans are affordable and sustainable, not just for the year ahead, but over the medium term.
The process of setting the rate spans many months. During this time, we have more than halved the expected initial rate under consideration. We have
explored many options to drive expenditure down. This includes managing staffing levels and recruitment; reviewing service provision and operations; developing energy-saving initiatives; deferring
expenditure where possible; and reviewing our capital development projects.
With inflation continuing to run at over 10%, we have also looked at appropriate increases in fees for the services we charge for. As a result, we
have identified over £4M of savings to help offset the rate increase this year.
For the 2023/24 year we have agreed an increase in the domestic and non-domestic rate of 6.8%
-- this means an increase of approximately £3 per month for the average household and £8 per month for the average business in the Borough.
Alongside all the statutory duties you will be familiar with, this rise will allow us to progress service improvements and capital projects in the coming
year as we seek to help drive economic growth and improve the quality of life for residents.
While we are currently operating in difficult economic times, our citizens rightly expect us to look to the future.
The Council has been successful in securing over £60M of external funding for a range of capital investment projects in recent years.
We are focused on securing even more and will be applying to several funding streams, such as PEACE Plus and Levelling Up, during the next financial year
to help us invest further in our local area.
We will be continuing to work with local and central government partners as part of the Belfast Region City Deal. Through this Deal we will move forward
with the ambitious redevelopment plans for Bangor Waterfront. We reached a key milestone for this project in January with formal confirmation of £40M of funding from the
Department for Communities. As the programme of works rolls out over the next 10 years, there will be benefits for residents, businesses, and the wider
Digitisation remains a priority as we seek to offer more efficient services to our ratepayers. In the coming year we will digitalise our current
paper-based cemetery records and invest in a new finance system, improving our internal efficiency and allowing greater integration with our website.
We have also agreed a number of transformation proposals ; some that will be progressed over the next year and some over longer-term. These include
planning for agile working; a renewed focus upon customer service excellence; and reducing the running costs of our assets. An organisational re-design project will also be
progressed to ensure further efficiencies.
Finally, the year ahead will see a Local Government Election with a new term for the Council. This means we will also be developing a new corporate plan
for the 2024-28 Council period. Throughout 2023 we will be seeking views from the public regarding priorities and aspirations for the Borough.
It will be a busy year and there is much to look forward to.
Members, Officers, and Finance team, thank you once again for your work on our rates and budget setting. It has been an extremely challenging process,
but we have learnt much from it.
Any increase in bills is never a good news story for households, particularly in the current climate; but I want to reassure our ratepayers that we will
continue to scrutinise council spend. We remain committed to making further efficiency savings wherever possible, while maintaining and enhancing our services, continuing to invest in the Borough and
progressing our Council-wide transformation agenda.
£40 million Funding Secured for the Redevelopment of Bangor Waterfront
Ards and North Down Borough Council will be receiving £40 million in funding for its Bangor Waterfront Development as part of the Belfast Region City Deal.
The news comes a year after UK and NI Executive Ministers signed the first ever City Deal for Northern Ireland in December 2021.
The Belfast Region City Deal unlocks £1 billion of co-investment that will deliver more than 20 highly ambitious projects and programmes, create up to 20,000 new jobs and make the region a global
investment destination over the next decade.
The highly ambitious Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) represents a new way of working between central and local government and regional partners. The UK Government and NI Executive have each
committed £350 million and partners a further £150 million toward the shared vision of inclusive economic growth that delivers more and better jobs, a positive impact on the most deprived communities
and a balanced spread of benefits across the region.
The Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment represents an investment of circa £73 million in a 2-mile stretch of the city’s coastline. It will connect the city to the sea through a range of sustainable,
world-class visitor and leisure attractions/experiences. With £40 million funding now secured, work can begin to deliver this ambitious 10-year plan, regenerating existing assets including Bangor’s 5
Gold Anchor Marina, the popular family attraction, Pickie Fun Park, as well as significant development and improvement of public spaces. This will deliver on a vision for Bangor agreed by local
stakeholders in 2018 – to make Bangor a ‘destination of choice’ to live, work, study and invest in.
There are also plans to deliver a ‘Phase 2’ to the recently opened Court House music venue in Bangor that will include new event and performance spaces and to develop an international watersports
facility at a new-look Ballyholme Yacht Club and Watersports Centre. This combination of funding and investment will transform and future-proof Bangor, delivering a significant boost to tourism and
encouraging further investment.
The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas, said: “This is a significant milestone to an exciting new future for the City of Bangor. As the programme of works rolls out over the next
10 years, this redevelopment of the waterfront will bring benefits and opportunities to residents, businesses, and to the wider Borough as a whole. I am very much looking forward to seeing Bangor
firmly back on the map as a place to live, work and visit.”
Gerard Murray, Director of the Department for Communities’ Regional Development Office, said: “The Department for Communities is working closely with Ards and North Down Borough Council to support
the development and delivery of the Bangor Waterfront Project supported by the Belfast Region City Deal.
“The agreement of the Contract for Funding is a significant milestone and an indication of the excellent collaboration between central and local government to deliver this exciting project. With the
recent planning approval for the regeneration of Queen’s Parade by Bangor Marine, this really is an exciting time for the City. Bangor’s residents and visitors can look forward to a revitalised
Waterfront reconnecting the city to its marine heritage and re-establishing Bangor as one of our premier tourism and leisure destinations.”
Having received confirmation of funding, the Council will now work through a series of stages as detailed below before any construction begins on the Bangor Waterfront Development.
- Procure consultants to develop design proposals
- Engage and consult with the public and stakeholders
- Secure planning and other statutory approvals
- Develop detailed technical designs and specifications for construction
- Procure a building contractor
Bangor is Awarded City Status
Bangor is Now a
Bangor has been awarded city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis welcomed the award.
“Bangor has a strong community focus and so much to offer, including its beautiful coastline, a thriving marina, and a resurgent cultural and arts sector that is drawing people from
across Northern Ireland and beyond for events,” he said.
It’s one of eight towns that will have their status upgraded, along with Colchester (England), Doncaster (England), Douglas (Isle of Man), Dunfermline (Scotland), Milton Keynes
(England), Stanley (Falkland Islands) and Wrexham (Wales).
There were 38 bids in all to be awarded city status. The other two from Northern Ireland were Ballymena and Coleraine.
Councillor Mark Brooks, Mayor of Ards and North Down, said: “I am delighted by the news of Bangor’s success in the City Status Competition. It would be an honour for the town and
people of Bangor to receive at any time but coming as part of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations makes it extra special.
PETITION TO CHANGE OUR COUNCILS NAME
Now we Need to Change Our Councils Name to Reflect The New Reality
Our suggestion would simply be "Bangor Ards and North Down City Council" but it's open to debate.
If you think the Councils name should be change please sing the petition.