Plans to upgrade the Edward Street Social Centre in Ballymoney have been approved by one of the new Causeway Coast and Glens Council’s committees.
A project to renovate the Centre had been on a capital project list for the former Ballymoney Borough Council with a cost of no more than £250,000 however, when the tendered price was higher than anticipated, the scheme was parked.
The project was raised again at a Ballymoney Council meeting in mid-February but the Council did not have enough time to rework the project before the reorganisation of the four legacy councils.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Leisure and Development Committee, DUP Cllr Ian Stevenson proposed a motion that CC&G Council approve a spend of £250,000 in relation to Edward Street Social Centre.
Cllr Stevenson added that the building had been funded in the 1950s by voluntary donations and is still widely used by a wide range of groups from the area.
UUP Coleraine councillor William McCandless asked if the reason that the scheme had been parked by Ballymoney Council was due to a “lack of enthusiasm”.
He asked Cllr Stevenson to provide exact details of the frequency of use of the centre, footfall, whether there are staff costs included for a caretaker, for example, whether there were similar premises in the Ballymoney area?
“Before we make a considered opinion here tonight we need to know how many other projects are in the pipeline?” he said.
Director of Leisure and Development Richard Baker told members that the totality of capital projects in the pipeline for the new CC&G Council amounts to £100 million but the actual budget available for spend for 2015-16 was £3-5 million, subject to confirmation.
He added that councillors will have to decide which projects to prioritise.
Cllr McCandless stressed that he was not against the Edward Street project but said that if they approved this spend, “then something else will have to suffer”.
Dungiven Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey said that he supported the project as rate payers need good facilities.
Mr Barker again reminded members that prioritisation of projects would be a Council decision following on from a capital projects workshop. He said that decisions should be aligned to corporate themes.
Portrush UUP Cllr Norman Hillis said “We all need to bear in mind that if we spend money on this there will be no money for something else.”
Cllr Ian Stevenson’s proposal was seconded by Cllr Alan McLean and was carried.
The decision will now go forward to a full meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Council at the end of the month for ratification.