Council no to Music Centre purchase

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council's Leisure and Development committee has voted not to purchase a long term lease on the former Ballymoney Music Centre.

During last Tuesday’s meeting, members were asked to make a decision in relation to purchasing the Charles Street facility before the August 31st deadline set by the Education Authority.

Councillors heard that a workshop had been held for elected members to discuss the Strategic Outline Case in detail and an Options Outline Report on the consultation with all interested parties.

The options were (1) do nothing and decline the opportunity, (2) provide a cultural hub, (3) provide a community hub or (4) provide a missed use development.

Members heard: “The review and consultation process has indicated a continued interest and support for the retention and regeneration of the Music Centre which has the potential to bring back into use a significant building within the town and with the appropriate leadership, partners and funding, develop what could be a creative and community asset.

“However there are considerable risks at this stage in terms of the deadline for decision making with uncertainty regarding recurring capital and revenue costs, the absence of a detailed feasibility or economic appraisal and subsequent business case to support the options, the lack of resources available to any of the local groups willing to take the project forward and the very challenging public sector funding climate which would make any capital and revenue project a medium to high risk.”

In response to information that over £1.2million was needed to be spent on the building, Cllr Alan McLean explained that he had worked in the building for over 30 years and ‘struggled to see where £1.2m would be spent on the building’.

Cllr Michelle Knight-McQuillan also questioned the deadline adding: “I feel we have no choice here and can’t really do anything as we are running out of time.”

Cllr Richard Holmes proposed option one stating: “Ballymoney doesn’t need another facility.” While Cllr Stephanie Quigley seconded it adding: “There’s no business case and no interest so it’s an easy decision. It’s a big risk with no return.”