Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Rethink needed over Cookstown training site

WITH the news that the planned Community Safety College will cost the taxpayer £157m (News, January 28), I would urge David Ford to rethink this costly gamble.

The original decision to situate the college at Desertcreat, near Cookstown, was taken at a time when we faced a much lower threat from dissident republicans.

Given that this threat has escalated dramatically, I feel it is time the minister and the Executive reconsidered this decision.

It is widely accepted that officers are at their most vulnerable when travelling to and from their workplace, so to site the college in an isolated area is reckless in the extreme.

Having spoken to many officers, there is a concern that this decision is putting lives at risk in order to appease Sinn Fein. Police officers frankly deserve better than to be used as pawns in this political game.

As one cannot predict how this current terrorist campaign may escalate in the years to come, we could reach a point in the not-too-distant future whereby the college could be deemed too high a security risk.

If this where to happen, we would face the prospect of a £157m white elephant and we, the taxpayer, would be forced to fork out again to build a new college in a safer location.

Sites such as the Maze site would have been better-suited and a cheaper alternative, but were overlooked on a purely political basis.

NEIL McNICKLE

NI21

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