Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Reject Maze and risk jobs chance

Up to 10,000 new jobs could be in jeopardy if the Assembly rejects plans to develop a stadium at the Maze, it was claimed last night.

The warning comes after a top secret briefing document on the multi-million pound sports facility was leaked to the media.

The paper, prepared for the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, outlines the potential consequences of doing nothing on the site of the former Co Antrim prison.

It suggests that abandoning plans for the 38,500 seater stadium for rugby, gaelic games and football would send out the wrong message and undo any benefits reaped at last month's US investment conference.

The document, shown to the BBC, said that "ministers should be aware of the implications of allowing the procurement to lapse without a clear decision" or of "turning down without full consideration of more detailed information from the bidder a potentially viable deal" that might be viewed at a future date by the NI Audit Office or the Public Accounts Committee as "offering good value ".

The document also noted that officials had a number of concerns about issues arising from the negotiations with the bidders or requiring detailed clarification. It is understood Texas-based Hillwood Corporation chaired by the billionaire Ross Perot jr won the tender competition to become the preferred bidder for the Maze development.

The document prepared for the First and Deputy First Minister says the " most economically advantageous bid" is from "a major world-class developer". Last month a leaked document put costs for the Maze at £379m.

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