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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 06:54 GMT 07:54 UK
Parties attend meeting on rates
Northern Ireland's houses
The campaign wants changes to new rates legislation
Representatives from the main parties have attended a meeting called by the Northern Ireland Fair Rates campaign.

It is calling for changes to proposed household rates legislation.

UK Unionist leader Bob McCartney, who was at the packed meeting, says people should pay last year's rate plus 10% rather than the new rates.

"The people are not just going to wear this sort of extortion and they're quite right not to do so," Mr McCartney said.

"That is not some sort of breaking of the law

"If a law is patently and palpably unfair and unjust and is being used to bully people into a political situation I believe people have the right to peacEably and democratically object."

Addressing the meeting in Belfast, Ann Monaghan from the campaign said plans being proposed here will give people a raw deal.

She said the legislation which is currently out for consultation "does not provide for a similar system as to what operates in the rest of the UK".

Part of the proposed laws leave it up to the assembly or executive to implement measures such as capping or relief for pensioners, she said.

"What we're saying is we'll deal with whoever we need to deal with, but we are not going to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

"And we're not going to be treated differently to the rest of the UK," Ms Monaghan said.

At the weekend, petitions against the new rating system were 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 Thursday.


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

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.

Chris Buckler reports on the meeting

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
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25 Oct 05 |  Northern Ireland

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