The owner of Larne Football Club, Purple Bricks boss Kenny Bruce, has turned down the offer of a Freeman of the Borough honour - saying it should go to the people of the town instead.
Mr Bruce says that he is “delighted and honoured” to have been considered for the honour.
However, he has indicated that his focus at this time “very much remains on continuing our incredible journey with Larne FC and building on the fantastic work of our community to date”.
Instead, he has suggested that the people of Larne should be considered for the “prestigious accolade”.
Mr Bruce said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been put forward for consideration for the freedom of Mid and East Antrim.
“However, while I feel immense pride regarding this proposal and sincerely thank those behind it, my focus at this time very much remains on continuing our incredible journey with Larne FC and building on the fantastic work of our community to date.
“Larne and its people are embedded in my heart and over the coming months and years I am committed to placing our club and the town firmly on the map in terms of football and wider economic regeneration and community spirit.
“I have been overwhelmed by the support of the council to deliver key projects and initiatives to improve facilities, services and sport in Larne, and I continue to work with the Chief Executive, her team and the councillors to realise our vision for the area.
“I want to put on record my thanks again for this gesture, but in my opinion it is the people of Larne who at this time should be considered for such a prestigious accolade for all they have done and continue to do.”
The motion by DUP leader on council Larne Lough Councillor Gregg McKeen, seconded by party colleague Councillor Andrew Clarke, was listed on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s agenda on Monday evening but was subsequently withdrawn.
It had been put forward in recognition of the contribution by Mr Bruce to the Larne community.
Mr Bruce, a prominent businessman, is behind plans for a new £3.2m four-star boutique-style hotel in Larne town centre on the site of the former Dan Campbell’s and The Thatch bars.
It is expected to create almost 40 jobs when it opens at High Street in 2022.
Mr Bruce, co-founder of Purplebricks, has already demonstrated his commitment to the town through the regeneration of the Inver Park stadium and the development of the Larne Football Club which he purchased in 2017.
He has said that “despite the challenges currently facing the tourism sector”, the directors involved in the hotel project remain committed to “creating a bespoke hotel that people of Larne can be proud of” and they are confident the planned opening of the hotel in early 2022 will coincide with a “strong resurgence of the tourism sector in Northern Ireland and beyond”.
Bannside TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston has questioned the cost of hosting such an event when council staff have been furloughed due to the Covid crisis.