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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 September 2006, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Rates protest targets worshippers
Northern Ireland's houses
More than 7,000 homeowners have challenged rates estimates
Petitions against the new household rating system in Northern Ireland have been signed outside a number of churches in affluent south Belfast.

People at both Catholic and Protestant services in the area, where some residents face bills of up to 6,000, were asked to lend their support.

The petitions will be handed in to the Northern Ireland Office on Thurdsay.

Northern Ireland Fair Rates Campaign spokesperson Marie Wilson said she was confident it would make a difference.

"We are 100% hopeful - all the people I have spoken to, no matter where I have collected names, have been very supportive," she said.

While rates in some places have risen, other areas have seen a decrease, and there was a mixed reaction to the petition.

Launched last week, the Northern Ireland Fair Rates Campaign wants household rates to be capped in line with the council tax in Great Britain.

Challenged

Finance Minister David Hanson has insisted he is determined there will be no cap, but said his decision could be overruled if devolution returned by the November deadline.

The first valuations were sent to householders in Northern Ireland at the start of July, and those who wish to challenge or query their rates estimate have six months to do so.

More than 7,000 homeowners have already challenged the rateable estimates of their homes.

Not everyone will have to pay all or any of the new charges. More than 175,000 households will pay a reduced rate or no rates at all.

Anyone who wants to check the value of their home can do so by logging onto the Valuation and Lands Agency's website at www.mycapitalvalueni.gov.uk.


SEE ALSO
No cap for NI rates says minister
01 Sep 06 |  Northern Ireland
Thousands challenging rates value
25 Aug 06 |  Northern Ireland
Call to check new rates estimates
25 Aug 06 |  Northern Ireland
Sharp rates rise for homeowners
25 Oct 05 |  Northern Ireland

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