Councillor Roma McAfee
Councillor Roma McAfee

THE costs involved in hiring Council-owned facilities are crippling sporting clubs in the Borough, a Ballymoney councillor claimed this week.

Independent representative, Roma McAfee, says clubs are struggling to meet the growing costs and, as a result, are being hindered in providing a service to the local community.

In a bid to ease the financial burden, Councillor McAfee wants the Council to give a credit rebate of ten per cent to clubs whose total spend on facilities exceeds £4000.

She has pressed her case at a meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee and when it came before the full council last week she sought support from her colleagues.

However, no decision was taken after councillors asked for more information to be brought to the next meeting.

Councillor McAfee is specifically referring to Glebe Rangers and Ballymoney United and in a statement issued after the meeting she said:

“The reasoning behind my proposal is very simple. Having spoken to a number of people involved in organising sporting activity in the Borough, they are clearly struggling to meet the growing costs of running their clubs and teams and therefore providing a service to the local community.

“The information I have seen shows that a phenomenal amount of money is being paid to hire Council facilities. For example the two main clubs in the town who play at the third level of Irish League football, Ballymoney United and Glebe Rangers, pay out over £10,000 each year on pitch hire alone between them. In addition the Ballymoney United Youth Academy also contributes massively to Council income.

“As a Councillor this is obviously very good to see Council facilities being used however I believe when you consider the substantial sums in question there should be some form of reward.

“These clubs don’t get any reduction for continually hiring Council facilities; the costs are the same for any normal person who wants to hire them. For instance Riada Stadium costs £81 regardless if Ballymoney Utd, Glebe Rangers or myself book it.

“Also when I looked at this income, what struck me most is that it is comparable to the £16,000 the Council hands out to the Milk Cup. In effect the income from these two clubs alone is paying for the Milk Cup.

“At the end of the day and in my opinion thousands of pounds of ratepayers money is used on other activities which are significantly less beneficial to the citizens of the Borough.

“All I am asking for is for the Council to show appreciation to any voluntary club which spends a substantial amount on facility hire. These clubs are promoting Ballymoney in a positive light but are skimping and saving to survive.”