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Rejection of new leisure centre in Dungiven is troubling

By Caral Ni Chuilin

Published 08/01/2016

Caral Ni Chuilin
Caral Ni Chuilin

It was with dismay that I learned on Wednesday night of the decision of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to once again reject plans for the development of a new sports and leisure complex in Dungiven.

The proposal would have seen the centralisation of sports and leisure facilities in the town at a single site on the Curragh Road, with the vast majority of the cost being met by my department.

This is the second time in a matter of weeks that the council has taken this course of action - despite having granted planning permission for the facility.

Wednesday night's vote, however, showed that there is cross-community support for the new development, but the two largest parties on the council combined to vote against the proposal.

There is a pressing need for this facility. The total cost of the new project is £2.839m, with £2.5m of this being provided by DCAL.

The remaining £339,000 had been approved by the regulator of the Landfill Community Fund and, therefore, has no implications on the district rate. The cost argument put forward against the development doesn't stack up. Some £800,000 of refurbishment work will be required to keep the existing facility open.

Additionally, the new facilities would generate significantly more revenue. This, combined with the efficiencies generated by a modern facility, will ensure that the annual operating deficit would be less than that experienced over the previous five years management of the asset by either Limavady Borough Council or Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. The savings in running costs are estimated to be circa £70,000 per annum.

The actions of some councillors have jeopardised the likelihood of this coming to fruition.

In terms of both multiple deprivation, income deprivation and employment deprivation, the Dungiven ward is within the top 10%-15% of wards across the North.

Providing the new facility is a "no-brainer", but despite this setback, I and my department remain committed to finding a way to ensure appropriate facilities are provided for Dungiven.

Caral Ni Chuilin is Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure

Belfast Telegraph

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