Alliance MLA and Belfast Alliance Group Leader, Cllr. Naomi Long has hailed
the decision taken by Belfast City Council to locate its new leisure centre
for South Belfast at Ormeau Park as a victory for everyone in South Belfast
and across the city.
She highlighted the fact that the new centre would be located at the most
neutral site on offer, according to the PWC survey commissioned by the
Council, and would provide a far wider range of facilities than that
possible at the alternative Maysfield site.
Cllr. Long said, “Tonight this Council has taken a decision which will mean
that we can provide a top rate leisure facility for everyone in South
Belfast. Whilst it would appear that nationalist Councillors would have
been happy to short change ratepayers with a second rate facility at
Maysfield, it will now be possible to provide a much better equipped centre
at Ormeau Park.
Arguments about the site being less neutral simply do not stack up. The
independent report found that both Maysfield and Ormeau were considered
neutral sites in surveys and, in fact, there were even fewer concerns
expressed about the neutrality of the Ormeau site, making it the most
neutral site. It is sad that some politicians have tried to sectarianise
this issue but in the end their arguments have not prevailed.
I hope that tonight marks the end of an era of pandering to sectarian
divisions that meant that we always had a duplication of services. The
result was multiple second rate facilities which cost ratepayers a fortune.
Hopefully this decision can mark the beginning of a new trend which Alliance
has continually campaigned for- top class facilities which are accessible
for all. Tonight has been a victory for everyone in South Belfast and
across the city.”