Shackleton Studios have expressed their disappointment that the First and Deputy First Ministers did not choose their tender for the Ballykelly site.
In a statement to Causeway Coast Community, they said : “Shackleton Studios, whilst being disappointed that the First Minister, Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuiness, did not choose its tender concerning the Ballykelly site in preference to others, is concerned that the tenders submitted were not scrutinised and managed in an open way. A successful Shackleton Studios tender would have created between 1,870 and 2,670 jobs in and around Derry / Londonderry.
Job creation was a key criteria for the tender and therefore a financial bond was proposed as part of the submission to guarantee commitment to the delivery of these jobs. It should also be noted that the film industry is subject to a fast growth rate, as we have seen in Belfast, and touches all sectors of society – education, actors, hairdressers, joiners, painters, make-up artists, restaurants, hotels and many other areas.
Figures for job creation and economic activity resulting from Shackleton Studios would have therefore been likely to increase significantly year-by-year. To this end, Shackleton Studios has written to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister asking to be provided reasons justifying the decision that Shackleton Studios proposal should be rejected on the grounds that the tender hadn’t reached the minimum score for the Community Benefit or Environmental Benefit criteria. Shackleton Studios had been working with Universities and Colleges in the North West region, creating training and employment and as part of their submission had offered to fund a trainstop at Ballykelly.
It also proposed a number of strong environmental initiatives on the site as part of its submission. As a matter of public law, Shackleton Studios is entitled to reasons for the decision, particularly given its significant impact on the Studios’ business, the economic benefit such a studio would deliver to the North West, and the investment that had already been made by Shackleton Studios in the site. It was noted that Mr Murray of the OFMDFM has already acknowledged that it would be appropriate to provide “feedback” on the reasons for the rejection of our proposal.”