News that a number of Causeway Coast and Glens villages will benefit from £2.5 million of grant funding under the Covid Recovery Small Settlements Regeneration Programme was described as ‘welcome news’ and a major cash injection for rural towns and villages’, by DUP Councullor John McAuley.
It was agreed and ratified at March’s full council meeting, to accept £2.25 million of external funding with a further £250,000 of matched funding agreed to enable the progression of a suite of projects.
The funding will see the continuation of the Village Renewal Scheme (£1,419,000) with a variety of schemes planned from MUGAs to walking and cycle paths, and the upgrading of community facilities and playparks in nine villages.
Magilligan, Mosside, Armoy, Dervock, Cushendall, Gortnaghey, Dernaflaw, Drumsurn, and Burnfoot all set to benefit.
The Restore and Reactivate grant scheme (£500k) will help transform derelict or vacant properties across settlements within Causeway Coast and Glens with Dungiven, Kilrea, Ballykelly, Cloughmills, Greysteel, Bushmills, Cushendall, Garvagh, Castlerock, Dunloy, Rasharkin and Armoy all deemed suitable.
Bushmills, Cushendall, Dungiven and Garvagh will qualify for support under Project C (£171K) which will see the installation of additional active travel infrastructure in the towns.
Describing it as ‘welcome news’ and proposing the Letter of Offer is accepted, DUP Group Lead, Councillor John McAuley said: “This major cash injection is for towns and villages right across Causeway Coast and Glens and for once nobody is going to be able to complain because the with the range of projects here everyone can see something for people in their area.
“In particular I am delighted to see regeneration projects for Dervock, Armoy and Mosside. The latter in particular is something I, along with my colleagues, have been campaigning for, not just in the Chamber but outside bodies which has resulted in this project coming to fruition.
“Almost a third of this money is being provided by my party colleague, the Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots and I think it is clear from it that our party has consistently made the case for more and better investment in rural villages across North Antrim in particular and we are delighted that this is now being delivered.
“While others will no doubt sit on the sidelines, or see fit to criticise the speed of progress, we will continue to be focussed on delivery. We are committed to investing in grassroots communities and ensuring our borough is an attractive place to live, grow up, work and raise a family.’’
Seconding the proposal, UUP Alderman Joan Baird spoke of the ‘long time we have waited for this’, adding she was ‘delighted’ in particular for Mosside, Dervock, Armoy and Cushendall.
Stating ‘I’m not sure what the party political broadcast is about with Councillor McAuley’, Sinn Fein Councillor Cara McShane added: “It’s very welcome news and it’s great to see all this money going into rural communities right across the district and we can see there were three Executive Ministers involved who worked collaboratively to deliver on the ground.”
SDLP Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop described the news as ‘fantastic for all rural villages’ before it was unanimously agreed to proceed and accept the Letter of Offer from the Department of Communities for £2,250,000 with council 10% match funding with a contribution of £250,000.