Belfast Telegraph

Glencairn pitches idea red carded by council

BELFAST City Council councillors have prevented discussion commencing with interested parties about the possibility of creating a football pitch in the Glencairn estate.

Members of Sinn Fein, the SDLP, and Alliance Party voted at both the Parks and Leisure Committee and at the September council meeting to prevent discussions commencing with other potentially interested groups.

DUP councillor, Naomi Thompson slammed the decision by other councillors to stop the proposal going ahead.

She said: “After being asked earlier this year to investigate the potential for a football pitch in Glencairn estate, Council staff prepared a report giving estimated costs for a grass or 3G pitch in Glencairn Park.

“At the August meeting of the Parks and Leisure Committee, Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance councillors voted that the matter should not be progressed any further at this stage.

“They voted down my amendment, seconded by Alderman William Humphrey, that discussions should be held, at no obligation, with other potential partners in this project.

“At the full Council meeting on Thursday (September 1) I asked the chair of Parks and Leisure, Sinn Fein Councillor Steven Corr, to take the matter back for further discussion but he refused and my request was declined when pushed to a vote, with Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance votes again outweighing the combined Unionist votes in favour.

“Councillor Hugh Smyth then asked that my amendment requesting that discussions take place be put to the full Council, but this was likewise defeated by the non-Unionist parties.

“It is disgraceful that these parties have blocked any negotiations from commencing.

“It is indisputable that a football pitch in Glencairn Park would be a valued addition to the estate. It would also help to address the under-provision of pitches in the Greater Shankill area. The Council will not now be able to explore with other agencies whether any outside funding could be brought to the table in a partnership approach.

“Phase One of the Council’s Playing Pitches Strategy, also recently pushed through by nationalist parties and Alliance, committed an imbalance of funding towards Gaelic sports compared to football and other sports. Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance have now effectively kicked the Glencairn pitch proposal into the long grass until a phase two of the pitches strategy is considered. This mean-spirited and obstructive attitude is typical of the control exerted by these parties which now have the majority at City Hall,” said Councillor Thompson.

Sinn Fein councillor, Steven Corr said: “Belfast City Council and myself as Chairperson of the Parks & Leisure Committee is committed to ensuring that the future provision of pitches meets the needs of the city, both now and for future generations.

“Findings of a recent independent assessment of the city’s pitches have been used by the council to develop a Playing Pitches Strategy, which is out for consultation until the middle of next month. The ten-year strategy, to meet the demand for high-quality and accessible pitches and associated facilities across the city, was considered by the Parks and Leisure Committee at a special meeting on 13 December 2010,” he added.

Belfast Telegraph


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