Causeway Coast and Glens Council has agreed to send four councillors on a fact finding visit in preparation for the 148th Open Golf Championship in 2019 at the Royal Portrush Golf Club.
During last Tuesday’s Leisure and Development Committee meeting, it was revealed that members had been invited to South Ayrshire District Council and Royal Troon Golf Club on July 13 and 14.
Director Richard Baker explained that Portrush Golf Club was currently focused on course modifications and preparations for the on-site infrastructure. However he added that Council has “a key role off-site”.
He continued: “Council will be represented at every level of the Planning Architecture and likely to have a lead role in the following sub-groups: transport, safety and security, marketing and communications, contingency and marshalling.
“To date officers have been working with Royal Portrush Golf Club, the Royal and Ancient, the PSNI and more recently South Ayrshire District Council, who are involved in the 2016 Open at Royal Troon Golf Club.”
He highlighted that the Royal Troon Golf Club had hosted the Open eight times, most recently in 2004 and that the Council have accrued significant experience as an event delivery partner.
“To understand the scale and unique nature of the Open, plus the planning requirements including Council’s role, the Royal and Ancient and South Ayrshire District Council have invited a small contingent, Chief executive, Director and four councillors, from this Council to attend a working visit.”
Asking for Council’s views, Mr Baker also said that Northern Ireland hosting the 2019 Open was worth around £75m.
Councillor Alan McClean said he had no issue with the plans however questioned whether an overnight stay was necessary: “Can we not fly in and home that evening? We could reduce the cost.”
Mr Baker explained that it “wasn’t logistically possible” stating that the agenda required an early morning and late evening and couldn’t be done in a single day.
Councillor Cara McShane also queried the need for four councillors to attend as well as the Director and Chief Executive: “A couple of councillors would be more than enough to relay the information back to us. It seems such a large delegation. Who pays for it?”
Mr Baker said that the travel costs were paid by Council adding: “The recommendation is for four councillors. The decision is yours.”
Councillor Aaron Callan proposed that a member from each of the four main parties attended the visit adding: “It’s a small delegation considering the size of the event.”