The Belfast Telegraph’s David Gordon has been worrying away at the details of the DUP’s Ian Paisleys’ joint constituency offices in Ballymena – planning permission pending. Combined MLAs office costs allowances of £57,200, from public funds, are being claimed as rental costs and used, directly, to pay the mortgage on the property – which is owned by a shelf company Sarcon 250 (sole director
Seymour Sweeney Ian Paisley Jnr’s father-in-law James Currie DUP Councillor Sam Hanna). The Belfast Telegraph report points out that
The £57,200 being paid for 9-11 Church Street is around 3.3 times its 2001 NAV [Net Annual Value] figure. Nearby properties currently on the market have not risen by anything like that level. A number of retail Church Street premises are currently available for rent or purchase, with advertised rental figures of between 1.21 times and 2.27 times their NAV figures. It is accepted that valuation is not necessarily an exact science, and that assessments can be affected by various factors, including the terms and length of rental agreements, the dimensions of the property, and the quality of the premises. It is generally agreed that 9-11 Church Street is on the less busy, lower value end of the street.
The arrangement might not survive the results of the recent Senior Salaries Review Body report.. [Would it survive anywhere else now? – Ed] And the questions I asked back in February remain – “So, does that mean this will be a publicly owned building when that mortgage is paid off? And will the rental claims stop at that point? Or are those stupid questions..”