Following a lengthy debate on the future of the Dunluce Centre in Portrush, Council has voted to retain control of the site for the time being, rather than supporting the re-location of Mill Strand Integrated Primary School onto this site.
While many who spoke on the matter understood the difficulties facing Mill Strand Integrated Primary at this time, they argued that the site was developed for the purpose of being a leisure & recreation site, it was not within council’s power to grant this site to the school, and that council could not be seen to favour one school over others.
Council officers did outline the process in which the council handles the sale of its property and noted that before any decision can be made on the future of the building, they must decide whether or not the site is “surplus to requirements”. If it is deemed to be so, then it would go through a process of being taken out of the council’s hands and into that of the Northern Ireland Executive / Land & Property Services.
Councillor George Duddy was the most vocal on this issue and made a number of points. Firstly mentioning the running costs of the building, which are over £40k a year, even though it has been closed since 2013. Cllr Duddy also noted that someone had proposed that an expanded WaterWorld could operate on this site, even though WaterWorld already runs at a loss.
In reference to the process in which the building would be listed as “surplus to requirements” or not, the former Coleraine Mayor said that it is clearly surplus to requirements. He claimed that council has absolutely no plans for the centre, and slammed the former Coleraine Borough Council for allowing the building to run in full knowledge that it was losing such a large amount of money on a yearly basis.
In closing, Duddy claimed that parents of pupils of Mill Strand had been sent mixed messages, their expectations had been raised only to be shot in the foot.