Protest at Cloonavin

Ratepayers who protested at Cloonavin on Monday night.
Ratepayers who protested at Cloonavin on Monday night.

Ratepayers from Portrush and Portballintrae gathered in the foyer of Cloonavin before Monday night’s Special Meeting of Coleraine Borough Council.

The group held signs stating ‘Protect our coastal paths’ and ‘Save our public paths’, as they objected to proposals put to Council last week by property developer Seymour Sweeney.

At the meeting, Portballintrae Community Action Group addressed members of Coleraine Counciil.

Acting on behalf of the Group, barrister Mr William Sinton, from MKB Law, made a presentation to the Council in respect of land and property issues in the Portrush and Portballintrae area.

The presentation from Mr Sinton was in opposition to a proposal Mr Seymour Sweeney put to Council last week.

Mr Sweeney, a director of Seaport NI, claims that his family owns a section of the newly upgraded West Bay promenade in Portrush.

As council proceedings commenced Mr Sinton said he was acting on behalf of ‘concerned residents’ and wished to publically state their concerns to the council.

Mr Sinton began by saying that the residents were told that they would be informed of any changes in the process, and that the group wanted to protect an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’.

Mr Sinton explained that a request for further information on the land from Council had not been fulfilled. He claimed that a request by the Group for maps and further documents in relation to the land, had not been met and that they were ‘dissatisfied by the lack of information from the Council.’

At the meeting, members heard that Portballintrae Community Action Group believes that there has not been enough information released to them to allow them to make any decision. The Group are now looking to apply through the Freedom of Information Act to ensure they receive the information they require.

Mr Sinton told those present: “The Council must be cautious not to act outside the limitations of any legislation.” He added that Council must “ensure all statutory legislation is adhered to when disposing of the land.”

Mr Sinton requested that the Council take no further action on the matter until the Residents’ Group can make a more informed decision.

He added that the Group would seek a Judicial Review at the High Court to further the case.

As the presentation concluded, Mayor of Coleraine, councillor George Duddy called for the vote to proceed ‘in committee’ to allow members to discuss the presentation. However UUP councillor Richard Holmes said he wanted the discussion in public, as the issue was ‘already in the public domain’.

The Mayor warned that they ‘didn’t want to set a precedent, and to be mindful’ and requested a vote on this.

After a split in the vote, members of the press and the public were then asked to leave the Chamber to allow members to discuss the proposals ‘in committee’.