A strange coalition of DUP/SF with the SDLP have ended the hopes of Ballymoney’s Evergreen Club of securing Edward Street Social Centre as a fully council owned asset.
Following almost two years of uncertainty, investigations and legal opinions, Ulster Unionist Councillors Richard Holmes and Darryl Wilson had proposed in March 2017 “that Council, subject to the removal of all restrictive covenants take legal ownership of the asset and fully refurbish the facility and that Councillors Wilson and Stevenson are added to the delegation to meet with NICVA.”
Cllr Richard Holmes commented “That decision was backed by Ulster Unionists, TUV and the DUP but called in by both the SDLP and SF. Four months later the legal response to the call in has come back to council for consideration.
“Council had the option of sticking to its original decision and take ownership of Edward Street Social Centre as originally intended by the late Mollie Holmes or to hand the ageing facility over to the Evergreen Club to run themselves – without the capabilities to run such a facility.
“But at Tuesday night’s council meeting, whilst the UUP and TUV backed the original proposal, the DUP could not muster the courage of their convictions and effectively hung the Evergreen Club out to dry.
“This is a facility that the council have run for decades. Ballymoney council staffed it, maintained it, paid the rates on it, collected the income from it and even put a sign on the door saying it belonged to council. The paperwork for the transfer of ownership, however, was never completed and Councillors have used this as an excuse to cut and run from their responsibilities to the people of Ballymoney.
“There is a moral obligation on council in this instance even though it is clear council does not have legal title and the business case does not stack up. This case has been championed by a small number of councillors including the Ulster Unionist’s Tom McKeown and Darryl Wilson. It is sad that after two years of struggle that their efforts have been dealt such a fatal blow. The impact will be felt by many people across Ballymoney.”