‘Cushendall and Glens missing out’

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Cushendall and the Glens are missing out when it comes to sporting facilities provided by the new Causeway Coast and Glens council.

That was the message from the chair of the Council’s Leisure and Development Committee, Cllr Margaret Anne McKillop.

She was speaking at Tuesday’s meeting when a Sport and Leisure Facility Strategy was being debated.

Since the formation of the Shadow Council, work has been ongoing to identify areas of undersupply and oversupply of sport and leisure facilities across the new Council area, members were told.

Council’s Head of Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Wendy McCullough told members: “By adopting an evidence/needs based approach to future investment, Council can ensure optimum value for money is achieved.

“Building in the need analysis work, a series of Sport and Leisure Facility Investment Criteria were developed and these were adopted by Council in December 2014.

“This work has now been drawn together into a Facilities Strategy that provides a overview of Council’s existing assets and resources.”

Members were also told of the need to “sweat the asset” which means to get the most out of every piece of equipment and every facility.

Cllr Philip McGuigan said that council had a statutory duty to provide leisure facilities for all residents of the Borough and “it is key that we provide the Glens electoral area with some kind of swimming facility”.

Cllr McGuigan said that while the Glens area was certainly a huge attraction for tourists given its scenery and beaches, “the reality is that we don’t live in Spain and we don’t often have the opportunity to lie on those beaches so a swimming pool in the Glens area would be a tourist attraction as well as a facility for residents.”

Chairing the meeting Cllr Margaret Anne McKillop said: “Cushendall has no facilities.

“We have to rely on the GAA and that doesn’t reach everyone. It is a half hour drive to Ballymena where our nearest swimming pool is.

“We are not meeting the demand for football when there are football teams who don’t have a pitch to train on and have to go outside the Borough to train because it is too expensive to go to Ballycastle.

“We have a real problem here in that we have NO facilities in Cushendall.”

Members agreed to adopt the Sport and Leisure Facility Strategy and Ms McCullough agreed that she would meet with the chair in Cushendall to discuss the matter further.