A proposal by Ballycastle Sinn Féin Councillor, Cara McShane, has secured an agreement at Causeway Coast & Glens Leisure & Development Committee that Council will proceed to the next stage to develop the Ballycastle Indoor Leisure Facility which is expected to have a net cost of £5m.
Referring to the report updating members on the ongoing work to develop and deliver capital projects associated with the Leisure and Development Service Areas, Councillor McShane said: “In relation to the Ballycastle Leisure facility I am going to make a proposal that we progress the SOC (Strategic Outline Case) and OBC (Outline Business Case) to be completed by October 2021.
“To substantiate that, we know there was a lot of ground work done so really the SOC and OBC really shouldn’t take that long to complete.”
UUP Alderman Joan Baird seconded the proposal adding: “If we could move this forward it would be a very great benefit to our area and it gives a positive outlook from an action point of view, so that something is in the pipeline and that we can expect some results from this.”
Director of Leisure & Development Richard Baker explained to members that ‘it was very simple’ to meet that deadline he would need ‘more resources.’
“I’m not going to beat around the bush, I need more resources and resources have a cost. If there are no additional resources allocated to that piece work I will have to take staff off another project and move it onto that project, it’s as simple as that.”
DUP Councillor Aaron Callan said Phase 1 of the Ballycastle Shared Education College campus has to be completed first before progressing to Phase 2 which is looking at the Ballycastle leisure facilities adding: “There’s a number of other projects right across the Borough that needs to be progressed and as the Director has highlighted, he would need additional resources so I don’t think it is prudent at this time to proceed with that proposal. It has been outlined that it will be developed.”
“Ballycastle isn’t the only area with significant need that’s identified and I think it would be wrong of us to make a decision now that would have an impact on other projects and also the team that’s working on these.”
Having been asked to clarify the dates for the Director Councillor McShane said: “I see Coleraine Leisure Centre is on the list as well and I would be happy to go along with the same dates as it, December 2021 which gives a little bit more time.
“I would be happy to propose December 2021 for Stage 1 SOC and OBC if the Director and Councillors were in agreement.”
Replying Mr Baker said he believed he had a ‘fighting chance’ to achieve that and that December 2021 was possible.
Mayor, Councillor Richard Holmes referred to the council’s debt saying ‘it’s been well enough reported in the press that there’s a reasonable amount of debt sitting there’.
“When we look at the list of projects, some are at stage 2 and sitting at £30 or £40 million of projects, there’s a huge amount of work to be done and I do think as councillors we do need to prioritise.”
DUP Councillor Adrian McQuillan made no bones about his feelings on the subject.
“I’m getting a wee bit fed up sitting here listening to how the poor people of Ballycastle get nothing. Ballycastle gets the same as everywhere else and if you listened to Councillor Baird and Councillor McShane you would think they were in a backwater somewhere and that’s not that case.
“I do realise they haven’t got a leisure facility there and I do support a leisure facility for Ballycastle no problem but we do have to be realistic.”
The proposal to push the Ballycastle leisure facility to Stage 1 by December 2021 was put to the vote, passing 8 voted for and 6 against.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Cara McShane, said: “The indoor leisure facility for Ballycastle has been a legacy Moyle Council project for many years. Following my proposal, the Council will now include the development of the facility as a priority project and proceed to the Strategic Outline Case and Outline Business Case by December 2021.
“While it is unfortunate that the DUP again failed to support the investment in Ballycastle, I am delighted that all other political parties have now come together – a significant step forward that will augur well for relations within this new year of the Council.
“When completed, the indoor leisure facility will compliment Council’s investment in the Shared Campus project on Moyle road which will provide for outdoor pitches – including the conversion of a grass soccer pitch to 3G; floodlighting; upgrade of three court sports hall to four court; and upgrade of changing and ancillary accommodation.”
Local Democracy Reporter