What next for the museum?

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A PORTRUSH councillor has expressed her concern about the amount of money which has been spent to date on getting a Coleraine Museum up and running.

Cllr Christine Alexander was speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of Coleraine Borough Council during which councillors were asked to make a decision on what to do in the long-running saga of the town’s museum.

Coleraine Borough Council has TWICE been rejected by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) for funding for the project.

The Council was told that their bids failed for three reasons - limited potential to meet PEACE III objectives; lack of consultation and failure to illustrate how the programme would engage target groups.

Coleraine Council, however, lodged an appeal against that decision, contesting that their bid strongly illustrates evidence in all three areas mentioned.

It is believed that the appeal process could take until the end of September this year.

Councillors were told on Tuesday: “At this stage, the option of seeking permission for Judicial Review is not excluded, however, there is inevitably a degree of financial risk that would need to be fully considered once the appeal has been concluded.”

After discussion, they agreed to wait for the outcome of the appeal to SEUPB.

However, Cllr Adrian McQuillan urged Council officers: “Don’t let SEUPB off the hook.”

While Cllr Christine Alexander agreed to wait for the outcome of the appeal, she voiced her concerns about the financial implications.

“We still don’t seem to have any sort of positive steer or result on this project,” she said.

“And I am seriously concerned about the amount of money being spent on this.”

Council Leisure Services Manager, Alex Carmichael, said Council officers had been “surprised and disappointed” at being turned down twice by SEUPB.

He added that they would be “urgently highlighting our strengths in our submission” to the appeal.