Answers needed on Ballykelly: Campbell

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The DUP’s East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell has called for answers from the UUP and the SDLP on the issue of the DARD relocation to Ballykelly.

He said: “Last week the UUP’s Jo Ann Dobson and Tom Elliot called on DARD to halt their HQ move to Ballykelly.

“The SDLP’s Joe Byrne seemed to support this.

“The UUP in East Londonderry, Foyle and North Antrim, which would be the natural catchment constituencies for the new HQ need to indicate whether they support their Party’s stance on this or not.

“The SDLP’s local representatives also need to declare where they stand.

“I, and my DUP Party colleagues, have been campaigning on this for a number of years. At my invitation several years ago, the First Minister visited the former Army Camp and agreed that it would be a suitable site.

“Up until now all the Parties locally appeared to be supportive of the move as the current site at Dundonald House is in need of extensive refurbishment costing an estimated £26million.

“The Ballykelly site has been vacant since being gifted by the MOD to the NI Executive, but the cost of this site, which has been vacant since the handover, is approximately half a million pounds every year in maintenance and security etc.

“According to Assembly Questions I have tabled, the cost has been £1.54m in the last three years alone.

“The issue is very straightforward, the North West has suffered massive job losses over recent years, this move will bring hundreds of jobs to the area.

“We have a local site which is costing millions to maintain while it lies empty, the current HQ cannot realistically be renovated, and the UUP have said they want the move to be halted!

“I therefore call on both the UUP and SDLP North West representatives to indicate whether they support this foolish and reprehensible stance or not,” concluded the East Londonderry MP.