Ratepayers in Stranmillis feel utterly ignored by Belfast City Council (BCC) and are fed up with paying high rates while seeing little in the way of services, according to a new survey.
One resident reports: "The amount we pay for rates is extremely high — our rates have risen from £800 per year to about £1800 over the last four years. "We have two children, one and a half incomes, a large mortgage and wonder how much more BCC thinks we can afford."
The resident continues: "I think the level of services in south Belfast are among the worst — we have no local playground, football pitch or leisure centre in Stranmillis, Malone. I feel like we pay for the rest of the city’s services and have to do without ourselves."
SDLP Councillor Pat McCarthy, who initiated the survey, said: "I tend to agree with the sentiments of that resident. When you consider that the area pays some of the highest rates in Belfast, the lack of public amenities in the area is totally unacceptable. "There are no playgrounds for children or facilities for senior citizens in or around the Stranmillis/Sharman area, leaving the large residential populace without essential community services."
Those living in the Hillside Estate are further infuriated to hear the news that the Roads Service has again, bypassed the opportunity to carry out essential maintenance in their streets. In a letter dated May 5 2010, the Roads Service responded to the concerns raised by Mr McCarthy over the state of the cracked pavements and patchwork roads in and around the estate. In their correspondence, Roads Service informed Mr McCarthy that the area will not be part of the 2010/11 annual resurfacing programme.
Mr McCarthy said: "The estate is over 50 years old and in that time little maintenance has been carried out, with patchwork and lifting pavement raising health and safety issues in the area.
"Having raised the issue of roads and pavements with the Department of Environment (DOE) and lack of amenities with Belfast City Council, I have asked for a breakdown of the spend around Belfast on an area basis and am convinced that the results will show the Stranmillis area as having the largest rates with least council service input.
"This deplorable contrast has been going on for too long. Residents in Stranmillis are fed up with having to pay up and receive nothing." Cllr McCarthy added.
Another resident who lived on Hillside Crescent, who wishes to remain anonymous, expressed their dismay to the CT at the state of the pathway between Stranmillis Road and Hillside Drive. He said: "It is overgrown with weeds and there are overhanging trees — it is dark and impassable and altogether unsuitable for pedestrians, especially children and older folk.
"The problem is we have been told that no one owns it.
"Cllr McCarthy organised someone to clean up the litter and tidy it up a little bit, but I’m aware the council’s powers are limited at this time as the pathway belongs to the developer — who has long since gone. We desperately need the council to adopt this pathway and fix it up."He added: "We have been residents in this area for the past 50 years and the whole development has become rather tired and tatty looking. Something needs to be done to restore the area to becoming again "well sought after" in a prime location in the University district ll as giving residents a pride in a well kept and maintained area."