MOYLE District Council rejected a proposal which potentially, could have seen the Local Authority lease the Marine Country Club in Ballycastle for the annual sum of £1, according to Independent councillor Padraig McShane.
The councillor added: “Moyle, the only local Council in the North without a ‘Public Owned’ swimming pool, failed to even explore the proposals when it was brought before them by me.
“The Marine Hotel along with the Country Club closed at the end of December with the owners citing financial difficulties over the winter months.
Hotel owner Mervyn McAllister said at the time, the closure was a ‘last minute decision’ and one he did not want to make.
“The closure of the Country Club in particular hit the local community hard as the facility was widely used given the lack of indoor facilities in the area,” said the councillor.
Speaking following the rejection of his proposal, Cllr McShane said: “The swimming pool was the only indoor utility accessible to all age groups, disability groups and special interest groups in Moyle.
“It is difficult to comprehend how my colleagues could have dismissed the proposal without proper thought being given to exploring the offer. If councillors had bothered to take time to consider and discuss the offer in full, they may have realised that not only would they have been providing a much sought after service but it may also have made economic sense for the local ratepayer.
“The rates lost to the local Council by the closure of the Hotel and Country Club would have more than sufficed to clear the additional running costs of the facility. I believed that following discussions with the present owners and other interested parties, that Council could have become the catalyst for the re-opening of the Marine Hotel also. Failure to take this simple financial matter into consideration is little more than a ‘dereliction of duty’ given the state of the local economy.”
The Independent Councillor finished by saying; “No one should be under any illusion that Moyle Council could not afford the facility. The Country Club generated a good income and it also brought in a large rate for the local Council. These two factors combined would have ensured that benefits to the ratepayer would have exceeded the minimal costs.”
Councillor McShane’s proposed in full was: ‘That Council explores the possibility of leasing the Marine Country Club until such times as our own facility is developed. (Quay Road proposal). I have spoken at length with the current owners of the Marine Country Club. It is my firm belief that following numerous meetings since the closure of the facility, it may be possible for Council to explore how it could help in re-opening the facility and on top of that, making the hotel a more attractive option for re-opening.
‘This has the potential to create 40 plus full and part time jobs for Moyle that the local economy recently lost. A local consortium of business people are preparing a bid for the facility with a view to investing heavily. Moyle Council for its part, do not have the ability, for the immediate future, to deliver on the need for a swimming/leisure facility. I need not remind Councillors that we are the only Council who fail to deliver this service. I propose that Moyle Council set aside resources in this year’s rate to explore the possibility of leasing the Marine Country Club facility from the existing or new owners of the premises.”