“A Tourism and Leisure facility in Ballycastle is now inevitable and construction should begin in the 2016/17 financial year”.
The prediction comes from Independent Councillor Padraig McShane who recently secured £350,000 to help develop 3g artificial grass pitches in Ballycastle and Cushendall.
Following a favorable report by consultancy firm, Strategic Leisure, which indicated a solid business plan coupled with a case of need Councillor McShane in 2012 proposed;
“That Council prepares a robust case for the development of the Tourism, Leisure Facility for the Moyle Area to be put forward to the Transition Committee for consideration”.
The Councillor who continues to spearhead a campaign to develop the centre said;
“The decision by Moyle to support my request to update the feasibility study this year is an important step. Design and planning will follow in the 2015/16 financial year with building commencing the year after.“Concerns have been raised about cost which has been used to block the project in the past. The obstacle has been overcome and we can build and maintain the Tourism/Leisure centre for an additional 1% on the rates of the new super council. Given that our rates in Moyle could drop by as much as 15%, we could not only have this facility but a substantially reduced rates bill.“We must remember this type of facility is taken for granted in every other Council area in the North”.
When asked how he could ensure any future Super Council would proceed with the development Councillor Padraig McShane said;
“The case of need alongside the feasibility study has already been established. It is now a statutory requirement for the super council. The only real reason why it could refuse to develop a centre is on the grounds of affordability. Our work over the last number of years has proved the centre is affordable. Should a future super council refuse to develop it they will inevitably find themselves answerable to a judicial review. The Tourism/Leisure facility will therefore be developed”.
Speaking on his work being debated in Stormont Councillor McShane added;
“Failure is an orphan while success will have many fathers. The heavy lifting on this project has been completed by Moyle District Council over the last number of years. Given the project is on a successful trajectory, others will undoubtedly wish to attach themselves to that success. I welcome it eventually reached Stormont but surrounding that debate is a few unpalatable facts.“The project is seven years old yet only when success is presenting itself do MLA’s bring it to the floor. It seems no local MLA was aware of the facts of the Strategic Leisure research in addition to the tourism section of the proposals. Undoubtedly the most confusing aspect of the question about Leisure provision in Moyle was that it was asked of the DOE Minister. One would have thought it would have been more appropriate to ask the Minister responsible for Leisure.”