Council must act in best interests of ratepayers - Holmes

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Ulster Unionist Councillor Richard Holmes has added his voice to those welcoming the tough stance taken by Causeway Coast and Glens Ulster Unionist councillors on the overspend to the Dungiven Leisure complex project.

Councillor Holmes said: “In Causeway Coast and Glens Council we have seen a number of what could be described as vanity projects which were rammed through legacy councils with the full knowledge that the legacy council would not have to pay for it.

“Indeed as the largest of the legacy councils the burden would primarily fall on the Coleraine ratepayers.

“Two of the most prominent projects in this category were the extension to the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre in Ballymoney at £4.5m and the Dungiven Leisure Complex at up to £9m for a town of 2,500 people. Such levels of spend match neither need nor the financial reality of the time in which we live.

“The Ulster Unionist grouping was grateful for and perfectly happy to support the offer of a £2.5m investment from DCAL into the Dungiven facilities, but when the project came in at a further £300k over budget we had no other choice than to turn the project down.

“As a group we will still support an investment at the agreed figure of £2.5m in Dungiven. But we are not a Grouping that are prepared to see money squandered in any way and will have no hesitation in voting against further legacy council projects which don’t deliver value for the Causeway Coast and Glens ratepayers.

“For Sinn Fein to debase this to a sectarian row says much about their philosophy and the sight of a Sinn Fein minister stepping in to save the project in Dungiven but not Ballymoney speaks volumes to this philosophy. As Ulster Unionists we treat everyone as equals.”