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The decision on whether or not to close Edward Street Social Centre in Ballymoney is to be made in March, after Causeway Coast councillors voted to defer the matter.

At a meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Council’s Leisure and Development committee last Tuesday night, a recommendation to relocate users to alternative locations was put forward by Council officers.

As part of the recommendation, officers would also review fees and charges at all community facilities in a bid to increase occupancy rates at Ballymoney facilities, which currently stand at just 25 percent.

UUP councillor Richard Holmes proposed the closure of the Centre, however Ballymoney councillor Ian Stevenson put forward an amendment that any decision should be deferred until March.

UUP Deputy Mayor and Ballymoney councillor Darryl Wilson pointed out that the Edward Street facility had been ‘lacking in investment for a number of decades’. He asked if the facility was to be refurbished, would occupancy rates be higher.

Responding, Corporate Director, Richard Baker told the meeting that the overall capacity across the area was ‘unlikely to change’.

He said that there were 14 community facilities in the area and that the ‘need was provided for’.

He added that the cost of running the Edward Street facility was in the region of £30,000 per year.

SDLP Alderman Maura Hickey admitted that the ‘money aspect’ of the centre didn’t add up, but she told members that Council had a ‘moral responsibility’ for the 95 people that use the facility every Friday.

She seconded Cllr Stevenson’s proposal saying: “We need to look at this in a more sensitive way. There are 48 facilities in Ballymoney, and I am not sure that this one should be the fall guy.”

On being put to a vote the amendment was carried by 12 votes to three.