ABC Council‘s first ever TUV councillor has said he “can’t wait to get my sleeves rolled up” to deal with the pressing issues for ratepayer in the borough.
This week he was elected as Party Chairman at the TUV Central Council’s AGM.
He told Armagh I that he is excited to begin tackling the issues that matter and fears that the state of roads in the ABC area could be some of the worst in Northern Ireland.
He explained: “A lot of them are not being fixed and the ones that are being fixed, it is just a temporary job. Before you know it, the hole’s there again.
“My fear is that somebody is going to come off a bicycle or a motorbike and be killed because they really are that bad.
“The roads really are not fit for purpose and there just doesn’t seem to be any accountability.
“We need to spend money wisely and try to get the roads to an acceptable level.”
Councillor Ratcliffe explains that the cost-of-living crisis is the big issue that he is hearing on the doors, and that in order to help alleviate this something needs to be done to curb rates.
“The cost-of-living crisis is really biting and we put forward a case that in England, the Council Tax can’t be any more than 5%. If it’s going to be any more than that, there’s actually a local referendum within the area.
“We’re putting that forward to set an annual cap on the rates to help families that are struggling.
“It’s a huge, huge problem.”
Councillor Ratcliffe argues that issues surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol and the cost-of-living crisis are both exacerbating the difficulties faced by ratepayers.
He said: “I met with a local haulier and he was telling me that because of these business declarations, he’s had to get extra staff in to complete them. Three girls full-time, and that’s significant cost.
“These business declarations have a huge, huge impact on the price of goods over in Northern Ireland, because even with myself and my own business, it’s costing me a huge amount more to get goods across from the UK, which shouldn’t be the case.
“I’m not saying it’s the full reason, but it’s a huge part of it.”
When asked about his thoughts on his incoming four years as a councillor, the newly-elected TUV representative said: “I’m hoping to be a fresh, strong, Unionist voice, and I’ll be working for everybody to try to help people as best we can.
“I’m not naïve enough to think that we’re going to be able to sort everything out, but I think it’s good to get somebody fresh. My plan is to work hard for the people going forward.”
“I’m looking forward to the term ahead and I would really like to thank everybody that voted for me from the bottom of my heart.”