Mid and East Antrim Council rules out buying Carrickfergus Pigeon Club building
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has decided against the purchase of Carrickfergus Pigeon Club.
A final decision was reached behind closed doors at a meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee last month.
Councillors have been considering the purchase of the premises at Shaftesbury Drive, off North Road, since January. It is on the market for £80,000.
It was agreed that officers would “investigate potential rental income for the building” and the view of the current tenant which is Carrickfergus Men’s Shed.
The council has also expressed an interest in adjacent land.
A number of councillors were of the view that further information was required regarding potential rental income if the council purchased and leased the building.
In 2018, the Shed group secured a five-year lease at Carrickfergus & District Pigeon Club, moving into the building the following year following extensive refurbishment. The ground floor of the building has work rooms, kitchen area and toilets and the upstairs has office space and a bar area.
The group has received funding from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Big Lottery Fund and Peace IV.
At a meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee in February, it was agreed in confidence that discussions should continue with Carrickfergus Men’s Shed in respect of the pigeon club on the proposal of Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly, seconded by Coast Road Sinn Fein Councillor James McKeown. They also sought a written report to update members.
Subsequently, councillors were advised that a “call-in” had been received by the local authority’s former interim chief executive on March 1 in relation to the proposed purchase of the Pigeon Club building.
A call-in provides a mechanism for councillors to challenge a decision made by a local authority.
Mid and East Antrim councillors were informed that the call-in was deemed admissible after receiving support of at least 15 per cent of elected members.
They were also told that legal advice would be obtained by a barrister who would confirm if the call-in had merit and if the “decision” regarding the pigeon club building had been reached after “proper consideration”of the relevant facts and issues and if it would “adversely affect any section of the community”.
Fred Berry, founder of Carrickfergus Men’s Shed, has said that the future of the premises still remains “uncertain”.
He has said previously that its location is “ideal”, situated just a few minutes walk from the railway station which he said suits participants travelling from Whitehead, Greenisland and Larne.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter