Ulster Unionists ‘vindicated’ over Dungiven Leisure Centre dispute

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The Ulster Unionist grouping on the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has welcomed the decision taken by the Council which enables the construction of a new Leisure Centre in Dungiven.

The project had been delayed due to a disagreement over funding, but following an undertaking by the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure to make up the shortfall, the Ulster Unionist councillors were happy to support it.

Councillor William McCandless said: “The Ulster Unionist grouping on Causeway Coast and Glens supported this project from day one, and we are glad to see it finally get the go ahead.

“Our only concern had been to protect the ratepayers of the Borough, and once we became aware that there was a £339k shortfall, we were unable to vote for the scheme to proceed at that stage, because we could not give preferential treatment to Dungiven at the expense of other equally worthy projects.

“We tasked Council officers to secure additional funding from the Minister to make up the deficit. We were always conscious of the concern from other councillors and the residents of Dungiven. This concern prompted four Ulster Unionist councillors to attend a recent public meeting in Dungiven and address concerns and engage with the community.

“After this meeting we again urged our Council officers to continue to engage with DCAL to assure them of our willingness to get this project over the line with the proviso that the ratepayers of the borough would not be burdened with the cost.

“We are delighted to announce that our persistence and perseverance has been rewarded as DCAL has now issued a letter guaranteeing funding of an additional £350K which Council can use to progress with another project and keep the Dungiven project cost neutral to the ratepayer.

“We have already initiated an analysis of sports and leisure provision throughout the Council area, to ensure future spending is directed to those areas of the Borough in most urgent need of assistance. That will ensure the £350k is spent in a way that can be justified purely in terms of evidence-based need, thus avoiding the risk of future disagreements such as has been allowed to arise in Dungiven.”

“It should also be noted that an original proposal by council officers to use landfill tax money to meet the shortfall had been resisted by the Ulster Unionist Party grouping on Council thereby safeguarding this money to be used in various community projects throughout the Borough. This would equate to about £300K.

“To quote U.S. Senator Bill Bradley - ‘Ambition is the path to success, persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.’”