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Jury still out on whether Ballymena's new bandstand is harmonious

By Stewart Robson

A new bandstand in Ballymena will host events from as early as next month - despite continued criticism from some residents.

The copper structure, built as a part of the town's £4.2m public realm environmental improvement scheme, is scheduled to open on July 7 if work is completed on time.

Cladding was still taking place last week.

However, as Mid and East Antrim Council prepares to announce a new series of events costing £6,000, the general mood from residents and workers remains mixed.

Eugene Diamond owns a newsagents close to the Broadway bandstand.

He said people still weren't convinced by its modern look or location.

"We're going to have an entertainments place in the middle of a traffic island. Other towns have it in the middle of a park, or somewhere like that," he said.

However, he's still prepared to give it a chance.

He said: "The money's been spent on it and we'll have to see how it goes."

Terri Asquith, manager of Bob & Bert's coffee shop, which faces the bandstand, said that despite looking "too new age", it may attract more business to the area.

"A lot of customers are saying that if it's put to good use it'll be worth the money if we make an event of it. It could be a good focal point for the town," she added.

The old bandstand is to be rebuilt and erected in the town's People's Park.

The council said: "Work is now complete on Ballymena's new bandstand, with the state-of-the-art outdoor entertainment, creativity and performance hub's installation marking the final stage of a multi-million pound investment in the town.

"It provides the ideal venue for a host of exciting events and performances aimed at showcasing up-and-coming talent from Mid and East Antrim and further afield, and promotes the very best of culture and the arts in the borough."

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