Coleraine Ulster Unionist Councillor William McCandless has expressed his disappointment at comments from the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill, that Coleraine’s County Hall was not considered as a possible location for the new Headquarters for the Department of Agriculture.
At Stormont Questions last Tuesday, the Minister’s response was: ‘The Coleraine issue arose after the fact and after decisions had been taken about the move.’
“I fully support investment in the North West, particular in the East Londonderry constituency. However, I feel that many of the costs associated with the Ballykelly site could have been avoided had the Minister given consideration to the County Hall site.”
He added: “The location of the new DARD Headquarters at County Hall would certainly have been a welcome boost to the civil servants. Many of them are still facing great uncertainty with their jobs still classified as surplus, some having to accept positions in other areas and others have already had to accept a redundancy package following the transfer of functions to the DVLA in Swansea.
“I simply cannot understand why an option appraisal was not carried out before the closure was announced. The decision on the DVLA office had been discussed for some time, so clearly there was a lack of joined up thinking. Coleraine has easy accessibility with excellent transport links including rail and bus services and County Hall be an ideal location for a new DARD Headquarters.”