THE Mayor of Coleraine has said that Coleraine Council has limited powers when it comes to tackling the derelict buildings around Portrush.
Alderman Maurice Bradley’s words of caution came during a debate on spending £3million on the next stage of Council plans for rejuvenating the resort.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Policy and Development Committee, Alderman Bradley said it was “vital that Portrush looks its best for the worldwide media attention” it can expect during the Irish Open this June.
“This is our opportunity to be forward thinking,” he said, however urging Council officers to work to make sure the plans have a “minimum impact” on the Borough’s rates.
Deputy Mayor Alderman William King also welcomed the plans but added: “We all know that state and condition of some buildings in Portrush.
“It’s a pity not more can be done before these big events but to progress, we have to spend money on Portrush.”
Cllr David McClarty said that while he agreed that Portrush had to be upgraded, he said the plans would “count for nothing if if we don’t deal with the problem of the derelict buildings in Portrush”.
“When people come to Portrush and when they leave, it will be the derelict buildings that will be fresh in their thoughts. While I fully support the proposals, we have to tackle this problem. The main building on the approach to Portrush has to be dealt with.”
Portrush councillor Christine Alexander said that Coleraine Council was taking a “leap of faith” and leading the charge. She said Council could not be criticised for not taking action on derelict buildings although she admitted that they faced a “lengthy fight ahead”.
“I hope what Coleraine Council are doing will encourage other individuals. We can’t expect miracles overnight but Council will be encouraging the private sector.”
Alderman Maura Hickey said that the regeneration plans were essential to improving the image of the “under performing” resort however she praised local traders for the “small steps” they had taken.
“The image problem of Portrush is improving. Things aren’t just as derelict and depressing as they were,” she said.
The Mayor, however, cautioned that Council was “limited in what we can do, except taking the legal route” to tackle derelict buildings.
“I was always opposed to these crazy apartment schemes in this Borough which lead to an inflated market,” he said.
“When the property market collapsed, we were left with no investment, and bankrupt developers who are in charge of these buildings.
“We are limited in what we can to to make people bring these buildings up to standard. We must be very careful not to put out the message that Coleraine Borough Council alone can do something about these derelict buildings.”