Council consider increasing £10k NW200 sponsorship

BALLYMONEY Borough Council has agreed to continue to support the North West 200 and are even considering increasing their £10,000 contribution - despite claims of being in financial difficulty.

The issue was raised during a recent Leisure and Amenities Committee Services meeting after NW200 officials, Mervyn Whyte and Gerard McAuley, gave a presentation seeking sponsorship for 2011 and to consider a further three-year agreement.

The report stated: ‘In December 2007 Council agreed to sponsor the 600cc Race at the North West 200 for a three-year period commencing with the 2008 North West 200. The amount of sponsorship was £9000, £9500 and £10,000 for the three years. The Coleraine & District Motorcycle Club has written to Council seeking sponsorship for the 2011 North West 200 and asking Council to consider a further 3-year agreement. Committee is invited to consider the request and make a recommendation to Council.’

In response to a question from Alderman Cecil Cousley following the presentation, Mr Whyte gave a more detailed breakdown of the £700,000 estimated running cost of the NW200 event to include the payment of riders, the Prize Fund, Insurance costs, toilet and showering facility costs, the cost of the cleaning up after the event, course hardware for example hiring of fencing, first aid costs etc. He advised that the event had run at a loss in 2010.

Cllr Anita Cavlan expressed the view that Members would not have known the running costs if they had not actually been told as they now have been.

Cllr Evelyne Robinson expressed her gratitude for the event for the people of Ballymoney as visitors flock to the Ballymoney Museum and to the Town, which is very beneficial for traders.

In response to a question from Cllr John Finlay, the Director of Central and Leisure Services explained that the contribution from Council for 2010 was £10,000 plus the cost of the Trophy.

Mervyn Whyte also commended the Council on the Museum and the Joey and Robert Dunlop Gardens, Ballymoney is treated as part of the NW200 regarding the Programme branding, and the NW200 Committee are keen to continue to work with Ballymoney Borough Council.

The Chair thanked Mr Whyte and Mr McAuley for their presentation. The Director advised that the matter could be discussed further under the Leisure Services part of the Agenda.

However a discussion ensured at the Leisure Services meeting.

Reiterating her previous comments, Cllr Robinson stated that the NW200 event was very beneficial for the community as expressed by local traders.

She explained: “The town benefits greatly from the event and if Ballymoney withdrew its support would not serve Ballymoney well. In general principle Council should support and sponsor the event.”

A number of members agreed that Ballymoney greatly benefited from the North West 200.

It was therefore proposed by Cllr Robinson, seconded by Cllr Audrey Patterson that Council continue to support, in principle, the NW200 and that Party Groups bring their recommendations on any increase to the current £10,000 sponsorship to the Rates Estimates meeting together with their recommendation on a further three-year agreement.