Clash over 'declaration of interest'

COUNCILLOR John Finlay has hit out at Cllr Bill Kennedy for 'speaking about an issue which he has an interest in'.

The criticism was raised during last Tuesday's Full Council meeting after it was revealed that the Leisure and Amenities Committee had agreed to defer a request from the Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club for financial assistance and obtain a copy of their Accounts.

The Leisure and Amenities Committee report explained: 'The Chairman of AMRRC has written to the Council thanking it for its financial support for the road race in 2010 and seeking support for the race in 2011. The Chairman advises that the Club has run a very successful and productive event in the past two years and that the event is fast becoming one of the most popular road races on the racing calendar.

'In 2010/11 the Council contributed 1,000.00 to AMRRC. Committee was requested to consider the request.

'Cllr Kennedy, declared an interest in this item of business and left the meeting at 4.15 p.m. A discussion ensued regarding how much the Ballymoney Borough actually benefited from the event as opposed to Armoy itself. At a request of members the Director undertook to request a copy of the Club's Accounts.

'It was proposed by Cllr Ian Stevenson, seconded by Cllr Evelyne Robinson to defer a decision on financial assistance to Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club (AMRRC) to the Rates meeting.'

However in response to the Leisure report minutes, Cllr Bill Kennedy, who is Chairmand of the AMRRC, questioned why members had requested the accounts.

Speaking at the Full meeting, he asked: "There is no difficulty about getting the accounts as they are already being done however we are not asking for a large sum of money so why do you want them?

"We have just had a presentation from the NI Milk Cup Committee who are requesting more money and they haven't been asked for their Accounts. I hope it not flesh for one and flesh for another?"

Cllr Finlay quickly counterattacked stating: "You have an interest in this issue so you shouldn't be responding on it."

Cllr Philip McGuigan also highlighted that there should be a precedence that 'any organisation asking for financial assistance from council should be asked for their Accounts'.

However hitting back at Cllr Finlay, Cllr Kennedy said: "I am only reading the minute here now as a councillor. I left the meeting and declared an interest when it was being raised at the Leisure and Amenities Committee meeting."

Cllr Finlay then questioned who had asked for the AMRRC Accounts adding: "It must have been someone and there must have been a reason with a proposer and a seconder."

Following a discussion about another issue on the agenda, Cllr Finlay re-raised the debate stating: "I am unhappy at the way such issues are dealt with when certain councillors are getting benefit.

"It is a matter of principle now and too many councillors are speaking about issues and not declaring a statutory interest in."

Once again Cllr Kennedy hit back concluding: "I personally get no benefit out of the races, in fact it costs me money. It doesn't matter who proposed it and why it's just that there are other organisations asking for money and they do not have to show their accounts. If anything there should be a precedence."