DUP Councillor John McAuley has supported Independent Councillor Angela Mulholland’s call for a public consultation on Portstewart Town Hall, however, only when it was “at an appropriate and beneficial time”.
The matter of ownership and Land & Property’s decision to hand the property back to the Montague estate was debated confidentially at the full council meeting of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council,
Councillor McAuley said: “Despite discussions on the ownership of Portstewart Town Hall taking place ‘in committee’ to safeguard council for legal reasons, yet again we find confidential information in the public domain for the second time in a 72-hour period.
“I don’t know what benefit Cllr Mulholland hopes to gain from her comments but it was made quite clear by the legal expert that the initial leak could actually jeopardise the situation rather than benefit anyone, it is disappointing this advice was ignored with this latest leak.
“Like many councillors, I have been contacted over the past 48 hours by local residents voicing their anger and concern at the prospect of losing Portstewart Town Hall and I fully understand this wave of emotion and concerns.
“Despite claims that this decision has been rushed, the issue has been rumbling on for 18 months and the legal opinion is very clear that council need to make a move as ‘The Montague Estate have issued council with a ‘Notice to Quit’ claiming they own the landmark building’.
“Claims by Cllr Mulholland that the decision was a ‘set up’ are totally false,” said Cllr McAuley.
“This is a very complex issue, where legal opinion is critical and it would be irresponsible for councillors not to take this advice onboard.
“Residents are correct that a community facility is essential to Portstewart and I will fully support this and a public consultation at an appropriate and beneficial time in the process, it was clear last night that now is not that time as information is still limited and the Montague estate’s future intentions unknown.”