Councillors told to 'wake up and smell the coffee'

A Ballymoney ratepayer has described the majority of councillors in the Borough as being no better than 'dead wood' after accusing them of "throwing money away" to local events organisers without getting any meaningful return.

And James Walker, from Kilraughts Road in the town, says the only thing that is preventing him from standing as a candidate in this year's local Government elections and fighting for a more productive spend by the council is his health.

That hasn't prevented Mr. Walker from heaping scorn on councillors accusing them of being far too generous with public money on events that he alleges do nothing for the economy of the Borough.

Mr. Walker. well-known for his fund raising efforts for the British Heart Foundation, said: "How can anyone justify a proposal to give 15,000 to the Milk Cup or around the same amount to the North West '200' road races? Add to that several thousand pounds to Armoy Road Races, 10,000 to the Sports Advisory Committee and you begin to see the scale of the problem.

"I also read that we spent 28,000 on Christmas lights and that makes it even more disgraceful."

He went on: "I guarantee you that if you added all that up and then went to the general public in Ballymoney and asked them what they would spend it on, you would get a very different response.

"I think councillors are completely out of touch with the mood of the public at this time. I have read all the arguments and still cannot see much logic in it. They are no better than 'dead wood' and when I asked for a meeting with council officers I didn't get one; instead I was told to my request put it in writing.

"I want them all to justify their spending, but I don't suppose I'll be satisified with the answers."

Mr. Walker, who suffers from a heart condition, says in his opinion it would fit the councillors better if they took time to work on the commercial side of Ballymoney by bringing in new business and jobs.

"There are many who say Ballymoney offers very little. I like the town and want to see it thrive, but some of the traders don't help themselves either. The other day my wife tried three shops for a pair of laces and couldn't get any. A simple pair of laces and she couldn't get them - can you believe it.

"Ballymoney needs a lift and instead of spending money that gives us no return the councillors would do better consulting the public on what they really want.

"Can anyone tell me that motor bike fans wouldn't come to Ballymoney whether or not we give money to the North West '200'? They will always make a beeline for Joey's pub and his memorial garden. The Milk Cup brings us very little and why are we giving money to hold a sports awards evening in the town when there is another one that costs the ratepayer nothing?

"Someone needs to wake up and smell the coffee, but come May I know where my vote will be going and I know there are plenty of others who feel the same way. Unless the councillors wake up to the reality, they're are going to get a rude awakening some of these days," Mr. Walker added.