A pitch is to be put out to tender for the sale of light refreshments, it was agreed at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim’s Direct Services Committee on Monday.
The council had been approached by a vendor who had inquired about the possibility of operating an outdoor catering service at a pitch at Carrickfergus Marina after he had been asked to vacate the carpark at The Windrose.
An area created within the marina complex had originally been designed for “small-scale commercial opportunities” but has not been utilised previously.
Knockagh DUP Councillor Marc Collins suggested that if another catering outlet operates from the Windrose carpark, it may be “counter productive” for a similar operation “so close by”.
He suggested that Carrick Castle may be “more beneficial to all involved”.
Knockagh Alliance Alderman Noel Williams said that he had been talking to local residents who indicated that the trader has been servicing the area and the apartments.
He suggested that the castle location may take him further away from his clientele and the council should be “magnanimous” in allowing the pitch in the marina area.
Coast Road Ulster Unionist Councillor Maureen Morrow stated that the pitch would have to be opened to other operators.
She also pointed out that the operator’s premises would have “to fit” with the castle.
She reminded that the council has been “trying for years” to get visitors to cross the road to visit cafes in Carrick town centre.
“If we provide an alternative in the carpark, are we taking away from traders in Carrick town?” she asked.
Party colleague Councillor Robin Stewart commented: “I think it would be much better to have it at the castle rather than two vans in opposition so close together.
“I really do not think they will come into competition with anybody in the town.”
Carrickfergus DUP Councillor Cheryl Johnston added: “Both vans are unbelievable. They are fantastic looking. They are really good for Carrickfergus and the borough.
“They are both local vans and local people who have had the courage to start these mobile businesses. I think we should try to support them as much as possible.”
Bannside DUP councillor Alderman Tommy Nicholl said: “I would have sympathy with the individual for he has taken the initiative to set this up at the Windrose. I think it is a little bit unfair that because it has been a success that someone else wants to take it over.”
Operations Director Philip Thompson pointed out that the trader had been “dealing with a private land owner” at the Windrose.
He stated that it is “standard procedure” of the council that pitches have to be advertised and tendered “to make it fair and equal”.
“We own the Castle carpark, there is an opportunity to accommodate there,” he added.
“We can try to make this work but in a way that is procured properly and keeps the council right.”
Cllr Collins added: “He knows that it has to go through the tender process. He just wants an opportunity to put his name in the hat and see if he can get it.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
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