Rating re-think needed, says Cunningham

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COMMENTING after meeting with representatives from Ballycastle town centre traders, Ballycastle SDLP councillor Dónal Cunningham has called for a complete rethink of the Business rating system in order to save town centres.

He said: “The current business rating system is built around a model of town and village centres which no longer exists. Out of town and internet shopping has caused footfall in all our small towns and villages to fall to the point that many long standing small business are either at breakeven point or making losses. This situation cannot continue.”

Councillor Cunningham added: “There is no point burying our heads in the sand, the current system is outdated and is not working. We need to be honest and ask ourselves what are our towns and villages are going to look like in ten years. If we want to arrest the decline we need to sort out a system of business rating that actually works.

“Another issue we need to address is that of empty properties, where landlords are having to pay business rates on empty properties leaving them without the cash to invest in the same properties in order to attract new tenants.

“The Department of Finance and Personnel to their credit recently extended the Small Business Rates relief scheme, unfortunately, it is now time for them to sit down again and come up with a completely new system - one that works.”