Anger over council plan
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
TEMPERS flared when it was decided that Newry and Mourne Council will spend over £400,000 on building works at the council offices in preparation for the new super councils.
UKIP Councillor Henry Reilly described the plans as a "Sinn Fein pet project" while other councillors, bar those in Sinn Fein, were also against the works as they "are a waste of money".
Thirteen councillors voted in favour of the refurbishment while 10 were against the proposals.
The building works include a first floor extension and additional ground floor works to help accommodate over 40 councillors when Newry and Mourne and Down District Council join together next year.
Mr Reilly described the council as "pathetic" and said he was looking forward to the reformation of Newry and Mourne Council.
“I am very, very disappointed," he said. "It's wasting money hand over fist for a chicken coup. The council can spend half a million on this and can't find money to clean up a coastal bin in Annalong. It's forking out money on a chicken coup.
“Thank goodness this council is going to be reformed. The plan is nothing but a Sinn Fein pet project. This council is pathetic.
“I press that we abandon the scheme and we should do away with the extension."
Outgoing Councillor Brendan Curran also expressed his anger over the proposals and said he was glad that he "won't be here to see it".
“I am against this. It doesn't look right and it isn't going to be right. People are outraged about this and we're wasting something like £500,000 on something we don't need."
While SDLP Councillor John McArdle added: "I've been against this project from the beginning and I'm more against it now. It's taking about half a million pounds away from the people. It's wasting public money."
Fellow SDLP Councillor Declan McAteer was also against the plans as "the bill just goes up and up and up." However, both Councillors Michael Carr and Charlie Casey threw their weight behind the redevelopment plans.
“It's amazing how this council can spin round," said Mr Carr. "We had the debate and there wasn't too many councillors who turned up. If people had of turned up it wouldn't have went ahead.
“It was the arguments that Down Council spent £11 million on their offices that convinced me to back this refurbishment. We won't be moving out of here in the near future.
“We can overturn this decision but where do we go from there?"
While Mr Casey added:"If we're going to have 40 councillors we need better facilities. We made the decision and we need to take it on the chin.
“If we are going to be the leading council we have to take the lead. Those of us that are standing at the election hear the problems on the doorstep but I haven't heard anything about the plans yet.
“We can throw it in the rubbish bin but where do we go from there?"
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