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Saturday, August 20, 2022

Appeal to DUP councillors| ‘don’t sell the Dunluce Centre’
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A Portrush mum and business owner has appealed to six Causeway Coast & Glens DUP councillors to think twice before they bring a rescinding motion before council on Tuesday evening in an attempt to push through the sale of the Dunluce Centre.

Ms Burrows spoke of her ‘deep concern’ at the DUPs attempt to overturn the previous decision.

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The Dunluce Centre on Sandhill Drive, Portrush was closed by council in 2013 after 20 years in operation and it is understood it costs around £40,000 a year to maintain.

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At the November meeting of full council, DUP Councillor Aaron Callan proposed the sale proceeded with the preferred bidder who had proposed plans for a family entertainment centre. 

An amendment proposed by UUP Alderman Hillis ‘that Council does not sell to the preferred bidder, but instead, go out to the market for a third time’ passed in a recorded vote with 18 votes in favour, 17 against and no abstaintions.

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In an email to the six councillors who are bringing the rescinding motion, the Portrush resident said: “I understand the financial pressures to get a deal done but please take time to consider whether the only deal on the table is really the best deal for Causeway Coast and Glens in general, and Portrush in particular. 

“The ‘preferred bidder’ is known to have interests in property development and runs casinos in the Republic of Ireland. There are already enough slot machines and gambling facilities in Portrush.

“We need a quality offering in this prime facility that offers long term employment and tourism interest.

“I have had sight of proposals by respected local business persons that would provide such an offering and keep the facility in the public domain, helping the Council realise a long term rental income.

“As representative of a Facebook group, Metropole Park not for Sale, I can tell you that the ground swell of local opinion is opposed to this sale and this was reflected in the position taken by our local council representatives, your party colleagues included, over the motion to NOT sell to this ‘preferred bidder’.”

Ms Burrows had previously written to all councillors prior to the November vote emphasising locals’ concerns.

She added: “As a local business owner, parent and longtime resident of Portrush I see that the town has changed dramatically in the last number of years.

“Visitors to the town are not limited to two months of summer but are attracted here all year round for a range of outdoors activities and dining experiences.

“We are no longer a ‘Kiss-me-quick’, tacky tourist resort and need tourist facilities that reflect this.

“The Open is due back here in a few years time-how about we have a fabulous facility that showcases local talent, heritage, business and skill?”

The interior designer called for a more progressive stance rather than offload the Dunluce Centre at a substantial loss just to get it ‘off the books’ 

“It’s really concerning that they just want to get rid of it when there have been decent proposals submitted, which I understand have been thrown out by council executives without even being considered properly,” added the mum of four.

“There was a proposal for a diverse hub for tourism and enterprise, something like the Designerie in Bushmills crossed with Giants Causeway visitor centre.

“I just think there are more creative uses that provide an opportunity for local business and creativity to be showcased.”

The rescinding motion which will be heard ‘In Committee’ on Tuesday, December 7 reads; ‘We the undersigned, and in accordance with Standing Order 23 (1) wish to rescind the following motion, proposed by Alderman Hillis at the council meeting on Tuesday 2nd November 2021 and which was ratified by council.

“That Council does not sell to the preferred bidder, but instead repeat the process, go out to the market for a third time with a view to attracting bids which will enhance the town of Portrush and the entire Borough by bringing a year-round experience which can be enjoyed by local families and families visiting the area”.

Councillor McLean, Councillor McQuillan, Alderman Duddy, Councillor Anderson, Alderman Finlay and Councillor Wallace.

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