Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Why does BBC stifle debate on rates controversy?

Letters to the editor should be sent to: 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB. E-mail: writeback@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

I believe there is a bias in the selection of telephone calls to BBC programmes should the caller have a specific criticism of the Government or the Assembly's fiscal policies. Calls of such a nature do not get aired.

I refer to the second review of domestic rating launched by the Minister of Finance, Peter Robinson, which closed on August 31. My numerous requests to Talk Back and The Nolan Show to have this crucial financial matter raised for public debate on air have fallen on deaf ears.

Talk Back did read out one email that I issued on the subject, but my requests to have the issue debated on air was ignored.

The 'head in the sand' approach displayed by Northern Ireland's ratepayers to the massive rates bills coming their way over the next two years under the single capital value rates system, probably suits the Department of Finance and Personnel.

Keeping the issue out of the glare of public debate gives the policy makers the classic excuse, "well, the Assembly put this out for a second review and asked the public to consult with the department, but few bothered to take part".

The BBC has recently produced a news item on their website highlighting a 30% increase in home repossessions so far this year! This is chicken feed compared with what has yet to come by way of bad debts in the home mortgage sector.

Take the situation in the Republic, where the housing market is now in a downward spiral. How long will it be until this happens in Northern Ireland and negative equity becomes rampant?

Unless the Department of Finance and Personnel comes to the rescue of low income, single parent homeowners and pensioner owner occupiers, there will be financial hardship all round.

Come on BBC, let us know why there is a reluctance to debate these issues on air.

Could it be you are not permitted to do so?

Michael Kelly, Belfast

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