Caretaker role removed at Rasharkin Centre

BALLYMONEY Borough Council have removed the caretaking role at Rasharkin Community Centre.

But the move has not gone down well with the Centre management committee who have written to the council expressing concern over their decision.

They have asked that the job should stay in place as well as urging them to retain the administrative services up to the end of June, but there will be no change in the council’s approach which brings Rasharkin into line with all the other communiity halls in the Borough.

The recently completed centres at Stranocum, Balnamore and Ballybogey operate on a voluntary basis with designated personnel opening and closing the halls.

A meeting of the Council’s Leisure and Amenities Committee debated the matter at length last week and amongst the issues raised was the safeguarding of children’s safety witnin play groups at the halls.

It was recommended that the Head of Amenities speak to a representative of the Rasharkin Playgroup to ascertain what measures might be put in place to facilitate the Playgroup to comply with current legislation on safeguarding children in light of the council’s decision to cease the provision of a caretaker.

However, when the matter came up at last Wednesday night’s monthly meeting, it was revealed by Councillor John Finlay that a meeting had been arranged with councillors and an officer for the following night at the request of the Women’s Group.

He said he was not aware of what was to be discussed or who was involved having just learned about it following a telephone call.

Several councillors confirmed they had received invitations, but Sinn Fein representative Cathal McLaughlin and Jason Atkinson did not with Cllr. McLaughlin saying he would like clarification on the matter.

This promoted his colleague, Philip McGuigan, to state that the centre was council owned and that if there was to be any meeting, the management committee who run the facility ought to be present.

He said it was the council who should take the decision as to who attended those meetings.

The chair of the committee, Councillor Frank Campbell, said as far as he was aware the management committee in Rasharkin had not yet been fully constituted.

On Friday morning, Councillor Campbell confirmed that a meeting had taken place at Riada House as had been arranged and that the Rasharkin Management committee had now agreed to examine issues that had given them concern and were given one month in which to do so.

“We are aiming for a situation where the committee will put something in place to facilitate everyone using the hall.

“The decision to dispense with the caretaker was no reflection on the way the job was being handled. It was simply a decision taken at the rates meeting where we couldn’t have one centre with a caretaker and the others with none. It had to be equal,” Councillor Campbell said.

Cllr. Campbell said he hoped there would a satisfactory outcome to please all concerned.