‘We weren’t consulted about hotel’

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THE chairman of Portstewart Community Vision says that residents are “deeply concerned” that they were not consulted about the new hotel in the Diamond.

Peter O’Neill was speaking at Tuesday night’s public meeting of the group where many residents voiced their strong opposition to the new boutique hotel called Me and Mrs Jones, saying it would result in an increase in anti-social behaviour in the town.

Mr O’Neill said the consensus of opinion was that residents were “deeply concerned” about the granting of an entertainments licence.

“We feel we have been gazumped in the community,” he said.

“We had no opportunity to have our input and I would ask our local councillors to feed that back. This was passed without consultation.”

However, Coleraine Borough Council’s principal Environmental Health Officer, Jackie Barr, who attended the meeting, dismissed this claim.

She said that there had been consultation, that Council had written directly to Portstewart Community Vision and had organised a meeting in Portstewart in February with the 42 people who objected to the application for an entertainment licence for the hotel.

She explained that, while it was not possible to allow all 42 objectors to speak at the Council meeting, two representatives from Portstewart Vision had made a presentation to Council outlining their concern about the impact the hotel would have on local residents.

Ms Barr said that there were no grounds for the entertainment licence not to be granted but stressed that it had been granted for a six month period with stringent conditions.

‘Hotel will be good for local economy’

ONE young member of Portstewart Community Vision took a stand against the tide of opinion surrounding Me and Mrs Jones.

During Tuesday’s public meeting of the community group, the majority of members were vociferous in their opposition to the development.

They claimed that the new Diamond hotel would lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour in the surrounding areas.

They even passed around the lyrics of the song “Me and Mrs Jones” - after which the hotel is named - highlighting the fact that the song tells the story of two people having an extra marital affair.

However, during the debate, one young woman urged the community to “embrace” the fact that a new hotel had opened in Portstewart.

Saying that she understood concerns over anti-social behaviour, she stressed that the hotel would also provide jobs and would boost Portstewart’s economy.

“It means that a person like me can get a job in my own town,” she said.

“Because up until now, I can’t get a job in this town.”

REPORT: Una Culkin