Belfast Telegraph

Training centre delay 'frustrating'

Mid Ulster has been left frustrated and disheartened by delays to a new emergency services training centre, campaigners said.

Stormont ministers have insisted they remain committed to building a new state-of-the-art police, fire and prison service college at Desertcreat, near Cookstown, despite the group behind the project advising not to proceed in the current financial climate.

A delegation made up of members of the community in Mid Ulster visited Stormont today where they were greeted by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Cookstown District Council chairman Wilbert Buchanan said a £11.5 million investment was anticipated.

"There is a real danger that these benefits will not be realised for Mid Ulster and delay after delay has left our community feeling frustrated and disheartened."

The planned new build has already been beset with years of delay and setbacks. First proposed in 2004, it was originally envisaged to be opened by 2008 but building work has still not started.

A procurement exercise stalled earlier this year when concerns were raised over whether the project could be delivered within budget.

Cookstown Council is being replaced by the Mid Ulster District Council as part of the creation of super councils with enhanced powers.

Mid Ulster's presiding member Cathal Mallaghan said: "It is our strong belief that the time for delay and procrastination is over and we seek an immediate commitment from the Executive towards the final and absolute delivery of the Northern Ireland Community Safety College at Desertcreat.

"It is our belief that such action will reinvigorate the stalled process and will provide a visible and demonstrable commitment to this key Programme for Government project from the Executive and all therein."

Mr McGuinness said Stormont's justice department was responsible for bringing a finalised position to the Executive.

"We want to see this police and community safety college constructed in Cookstown, that is our commitment today."

Mr Robinson added that work was almost complete and he could not see the OFMDFM changing its position.

"We expect to get that report soon."

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