DUP councillors on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council have said a proposal to upgrade a sports centre in Dungiven was not supported because the arguments to do so did not stack up.
“When Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council came into existence in April this year, the DUP’s immediate priority was ensuring ratepayers were not faced with a hike in rates, and so we agreed in the short-term Council should only embark on essential capital projects,” said Cllr John Finlay from Ballymoney.
“Work was carried out by council officers and independent external consultants to identify priorities in a range of areas of service provision, including leisure facilities. The Council sports facility in Dungiven was not top of the priority list. The village has a population of just 2,000 people, and is a 12-minute drive from Limavady Leisure Centre. Other nearby sports facilities include private sector gyms and playing fields operated by sporting organisations.
“A plan was brought forward to Shadow Council to spend £9m upgrading sports facilities in Dungiven. This was totally unrealistic, and was rejected. A trimmed-back proposal followed, with an estimated price-tag of £2.5m, which the CAL Minister offered to fund through her Department. Our party did not object to this proposal, on the basis it would not come at a cost to the ratepayers of the new Borough.
“When the tender process for the scheme completed on 23rd November, the project was £339,000 over budget. Council officers advised there was no scope to reduce the project cost by altering the design. Proposals to fund the £339k deficit by using Council’s Landfill Community Fund gave us serious concerns. By committing the Community Fund monies exclusively to the Dungiven scheme would have meant no other projects in the Borough could access this funding stream for two-and-a-half years.
“Had a suitable tender came in on-target, the scheme would have been approved. For Sinn Fein to suggest unionists are not supportive of investment in the Borough is utter nonsense; for Cllr McGlinchy to accuse unionists of sectarianism is total hypocrisy.
“Sinn Fein have made no bones about this being a scheme for their electorate in Dungiven. They and the SDLP controlled the former Limavady council for years and had every opportunity to address the issues they are now raising regarding sports provision in Dungiven.
“They should explain to the people of Dungiven why they failed to address then what they are now representing to be a priority need, rather than lashing out at others for a problem not of their making.”