Concern expressed over 3G pitch decision

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The decision to build a new 3G pitch in Ballymoney has been criticised by some councillors as being ‘too rushed’.

During last Tuesday’s meeting, members heard that Council had secured DCAL funding for the development of a multi-sport facility in the borough and, following a study on the best location for the pitch, the greatest need was in Ballymoney, Coleraine and the Glens areas.

However due to the urgent nature of the funding application, within the Financial Year 2016/17, the Director of Leisure and Development Committee advised that the ideal venue would be on Council land.

Recommending Armoy, Portrush and Ballymoney areas, Richard Baker explained: “Provision of a 3G pitch at Riada is on Council’s 2016/17 Capital Programme but the Business Case for the project has not yet been completed. Provision of a synthetic pitch in Portrush and upgrade of Council’s Armoy Rugby Club facilities are being considered for the 2017/18 Programme but these projects could be accelerated.”

However it was concluded that the Ballymoney facility was “the most deliverable in the currently time scale”.

In response some councillors expressed their disappointment and questioned the options available to develop facilities in other areas like the Glens, Ballycastle, Portstewart and Portrush,

Alderman Maura Hickey expressed her anger stating: “I am surprised there hasn’t been more research into Portrush, Portstewart and Coleraine. I propose an amendment that we should explore other possibilities. There is ample time left. I am amazed this is in such a rush to get through. I am not happy about it.”

Mr Baker explained that “work was already being done” and officers were looking into developing other areas. But again he highlighted the ‘urgency’ of this scheme adding: “I’m not holding a gun to your heads but if we postpone this it’ll be at risk to the project.”

Alderman Norman Hillis said he “understood councillor Hickey’s frustration” while councillor James McCorkell highlighted the “absolute need for pitches in Coleraine”.

It was also revealed at the meeting that within Council’s Sport Facility Strategy, the Borough has a widespread deficit of pitches other than in the Limavady, Ballykelly and Greysteel vicinity.

Coleraine’s Astro Turf and 3G Facility at Rugby Avenue was officially opened on Wednesday 7th January, last year.

The Rugby Avenue project was delivered and managed by the old Coleraine Borough Council in partnership with the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL) and Sport NI and was supported by the Strategic Investment Board, and provides much needed training services for all sporting clubs from throughout the Borough.