At a special meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council on Wednesday night, councillors voted once gain to reject plans for a new £2.8m sports complex in Dungiven.
Upon learning of this decision, Carál Nί Chuilίn, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, said: “It was with dismay that I learned on Wednesday night of the decision of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to once again reject plans for the development of a new sports and leisure complex in Dungiven.
“The proposal would have seen the centralisation of sports and leisure facilities in the town at a single site on the Curragh Road, with the vast majority of the cost being met by my department.
“This is the second time in a matter of weeks that the Council has taken this course of action, despite having granted planning permission for the facility. Wednesday night’s vote however showed that there is cross community support for the new development but the two largest parties on the Council combined to vote against the proposal.
“There is a pressing need for this facility. The current sports pavilion in Dungiven is no longer fit for purpose. It is in a poor state of repair and would require significant investment to bring it up to the minimum standard as it is not currently compliant with the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.
“The total cost of the new project is just over £2.839m with £2.5m of this being provided by DCAL. The remaining budget of £339k had been approved by the regulator of the Landfill Community Fund and therefore has no implications on the District Rate. The business case for the facilities has been approved by the Department of Finance and Personnel.
“The cost argument put forward by those who have voted against the development doesn’t stack up. Some £800k of refurbishment work will be required to keep the existing facility open. Therefore despite what they say, the councillors who voted against the proposal have incurred an additional expense on the ratepayers of the borough. One must therefore question the real motive behind this decision.
“Additionally, the new facilities would generate significantly more revenue. This, combined with the efficiencies generated by a modern fit for purpose facility, will ensure that the annual operating deficit would be less than that experienced over the previous five years management of the asset by either Limavady Borough Council or Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. The savings in running costs are estimated to be circa £70k per annum.
“The new facilities would improve access to high quality sporting and community facilities and increase opportunities for the people from the surrounding areas regardless of age, ability or gender to become involved in and sustain their involvement in sport and leisure activity. The actions of some councillors have jeopardised the likelihood of this coming to fruition.
“In terms of both multiple deprivation, income deprivation and employment deprivation, the Dungiven ward is within the top 10–15% of wards across the north. Providing the new facility is a ‘no brainer’ but despite this setback I and my department remain committed to finding a way to ensure that appropriate leisure and sporting facilities are provided for Dungiven and its surrounding hinterland.”