‘TOWN SHOULD BE NEW COUNCIL BASE’ SAYS KENNEDY

THE new super council structure for the Causeway Coast and Glens should have its administrative base in Ballymoney, a local politician has said this week.

From 2015, 11 new councils areas will replace the existing 26 and the headquarters for the area covered by Moyle, Ballymoney, Coleraine, and Limavady is likely to be Coleraine.

However, local DUP representative, Bill Kennedy, argues that Ballymoney is geographically central to the proposed new structure and, as such, should be considered as the hub of the 40-seat council.

His proposal which will be highlighted during the eight-week consultation period is that Ballymoney’s Riada House could be expanded by demolishing the derelict buildings in Linenhall Street and Charles Street to make way for new headquarters to accommodate councillors and all administrative staff.

Councillor Kennedy told the Times: “Coleraine Borough Council’s premises were not built for a 40-member council.

“Although it might have to manage for the first couple of years, strong consideration ought to be given to expanding the existing facilities in Ballymoney.

“By demolishing Lindenhall Street and Charles Street we would get rid of a great deal of the blight.

“Isn’t it about time that Ballymoney benefitted from some investment rather than see it asset stripped as appears to be the case?” the Councillor said.

Councillor Kennedy says Ballymoney is right at the heart of the new council and that it would make sense to give consideration to his proposal.

The consultation period will be used by local politicians to argue their case and the issue could ultimately be the subject of public inquiries by independent assistant commissioners.

The Causeway Coast and Glens council takes in The Glens, Causeway, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Bann, Benbradagh and Limavady each with a number of wards.

Stranocum has now been lumped in with Torr Head and and Rathlin and the Cushendall area.

Dervock now joins the likes of Giant’s Causeway along with Portrush and Dunluce and Portstewart.

Ballymoney will embrace Cloughmills, Rasharkin and Dunloy along with the town.

Not all politicians are happy with the re-drawing of the boundaries with TUV leader, Jim Allister, describing the propsed arrangements as “shameful.”

He said the boundaries were a “dog’s diner”.

He said that it made no sense to see Ballymena partnered with Carrickfergus instead of its natural north Antrim hinterland of Ballymoney.

A time scale has been rolled out with voluntary transition committees replaced by statutory transition committees subject to agreement from the Northern Ireland Executive.

Elections are due to take place in June next year.

From then until March 2015 shadow councils will begin operating. The new councils will then open for business on April 1.

As ‘councils’ in waiting they will have the power to make key decisions like appointing senior staff, setting rates and approving business plans for the new councils.