Belfast City Hall weddings to see 500 percent price hike

Belfast City Council has voted to raise the price of City Hall weddings by up to five times.

At the full monthly meeting of the council on Monday, elected representatives voted to raise the price of City Hall weddings from £100 to £350 on weekdays, and £100 to £500 on Saturdays. All the parties but People Before Profit backed the price hike.

The matter was raised at the full council on Monday weeks after councillors voted for the matter at a secret 'restricted' session away from the public gaze in the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.

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That committee considered a secret report in relation to new City Hall income generation proposals. Without giving details of the secret committee session, the full council minutes report states councillors voted for “an increase in wedding room hire costs in the City Hall, an increase in charges for officiating at other wedding venues and the introduction of a cost recovery charge for certain public tours of the City Hall”.

The committee decision was ratified at the full council this week.

The sole People Before Profit Councillor at Belfast Council, Michael Collins, proposed before the chamber on Monday that the council reject the price hikes. He said: “It is an astronomical hike what we are proposing.”

He added: “I want to formally propose this goes back to committee. Part of the rationale for increasing the prices is that we haven’t done it in some time, and that we are not competitive with other venues in the city centre that offer weddings.

“This rationale is problematic for the council, because we are not a corporate entity that is in competition with other businesses in the city centre. We are a civic building which offers a service at a subsidised rate for ratepayers. I think it would be a shame if that were to go out the window.”

He failed to find a seconder for his proposal for the decision to return to committee level, so the proposal fell.

A Belfast City Council spokesperson said: “During this year’s rate-setting process, the need to raise additional income was highlighted as necessary to support investment in the city and minimise the rate increase for households and businesses. Since then, a review of some charges for use of City Hall facilities has taken place, following a benchmarking exercise looking at charges at comparable venues.

“As a result, elected members have agreed to increase the charge for wedding room hire at City Hall and increase the fee for council registrars officiating at other wedding venues. All current bookings at City Hall will be charged at the current price. It is intended that the new pricing structure will apply from 1 July 2024 with details set to be published on our website – belfastcity.gov.uk/marriages – later this month.”

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