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Council agrees to look again at plans to charge greyhound fraternity £45k to race at Brandywell


Positive: Martin Reilly

Positive: Martin Reilly

Positive: Martin Reilly

A plan to charge Londonderry's 'doggy men' £45,000 a year to race greyhounds at the city's Brandywell stadium has been deferred.

Derry City and Strabane District Council's health and community committee decided to put the matter out for consultation at a meeting last night.

A packed gathering heard councillors unanimously agree that officials should spend the next four weeks consulting all interested parties - including the city's greyhound fraternity and Derry City FC - and come up with a revised set of proposals for the future running of the stadium which would be acceptable to all concerned.

Dog racing has ties to the stadium, which is currently being upgraded, that are as strong as football. Greyhounds have been racing at the Brandywell for more than half-a-century.

But changes to the agreement between Derry City and Strabane District Council, which owns the stadium, had sparked fears that the doggy men would have had to leave their traditional home.

Speaking after the meeting, SDLP councillor Martin Reilly said the £45,000 figure had come from legal advice submitted to the council. It represented the lowest rent figure that would ensure the council did not breach rules on State aid to external bodies.

"However, because of the concern that had been expressed, and because of the long history of support for Brandywell from the greyhound racing fraternity, all the committee members felt it would be prudent to allow more time to explore the matter," the Waterside SDLP councillor said. "We'll have our officials bring back revised proposals that would be acceptable to all parties."

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Council officials will now meet with greyhound racers and Derry City FC, and will also review how other councils across the UK and Ireland have dealt with similar issues.

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