Alliance Castlereagh Councillor Michael Long has said residents’ views must be taken into consideration following a protest against the closure of the Robinson Centre, Castlereagh tonight.
The Centre is set to shut for up to three years because the unionist-controlled council has set an artificially low rate for years, according to Councillor Long.
Cllr Long said: “There is a lot of anger about the decision to close the Robinson Centre, as it has been known for years that it needed refurbishment. Simply put, it should never have been allowed to reach this state of disrepair.”
“Money spent in the past would have been a sound investment. Alliance has consistently argued for a long-term strategy that would avoid this year’s problems, but our advice was ignored. If the rates had not been set for political reasons by unionists on the council, a new centre could have already been built.”
“A two to three year wait for a new one is unacceptable. Because of this rates fiasco, public amenities are disappearing fast in Castlereagh to pay for essential services – which are also being cut.”
“With around 20 full-time jobs set to go at the Robinson Centre and more set to be lost in the Council, it clearly shows how the DUP and UUP have mismanaged Castlereagh for years.”
“And all this is happening while the Mayor’s allowance was increased last week. Ordinary people in Castlereagh are saying enough is enough.”
The major impact of the new rate will be:
·the closure of the Council’s only main swimming and diving pool for up to three years at the Robinson Centre
·the closure of the municipal golf course at Gilnahirk for up to two years
·closure of the Dungoyne Community Centre
·an end to funding for Greenway Community Centre
·the Arts budget more than halved to £25,000
·the Economic Development budget cut by almost 85% or £150,000
·cuts on environmentally friendly technical services including 5% on recycling, and 20% on recycling disposal
·cuts to a severely curtailed number of summer schemes