A motion from Councillor Alan McDowell and Councillor Kellie Armstrong saw Ards Council agree to accept the Environment Department’s letter of offer for both the Seal Sanctuary and Exploris – with the decision only now subject to final approval by the new North Down and Ards District Council.
Describing it as ‘vital progress’ in the on-going campaign to secure the future of the popular aquarium, Councillor Kellie Armstrong added she was ‘surprised’ and ‘disappointed’ that some DUP Councillors from the Peninsula area voted against the proposals.
Councillor Kellie Armstrong said: “Ards Borough Council has made vital progress in the fight to save Exploris. In accepting the letter of offer we have taken a very important step towards not only securing the future of Exploris, but enabling development of the much loved tourist attraction.
“I’d like to thank all who spoke and voted in favour of the motion, with the official vote recording nine for the motion and five against, with some abstentions. Most surprising though were the DUP Councillors from the Peninsula that voted against the motion – effectively not supporting the save Exploris campaign.
“In line with protocols the new North Down and Ards Council needs to ratify the proposals. Hopefully this will happen in the coming weeks, making firmly securing the future of Exploris as one of Northern Ireland’s key tourist attractions.”