The Antrim Councillor received a huge response from residents after he posted his views on Facebook when he came face to face with the Forum’s locked gates while out walking his dogs last weekend.
Mr Kelly has since been inundated with comments and ‘likes’ and says the Council now has a duty to open a real debate on the issue.
He said: “While walking my dogs I looked across the river and thought it was absolutely disgraceful that the Forum was closed. I immediately lifted out my phone and made a comment on Facebook which has since received 90 – with all but two supportive of my view – and 140 indicating they ‘liked’ what I had to say.
“I was amazed at such a positive response and feel duty bound to take this forward once again to see if the council will change their mind and allow the rate payer to use the services they pay for. The reality is people are actually leaving Antrim on Sunday mornings to go to nearby Lisburn, The Valley Leisure or Sixmile in Ballyclare, to use their facilities because we won’t open ours.
“Elite athletes from the Borough are also denied access, yet on many occasions I have seen coach loads of footballers from other countries using the Forum as well as international netball matches being held there all on Sunday mornings. It seems if you are an elite athlete from outside the Town you can use the Forum whenever you want but if you are from Antrim the gates remain locked, to me that is just wrong.
“While locals cannot avail of the Forum on a Sunday morning they are in luck if they play golf. Just down the road at the Council’s own golf facility at Allen Park you can tee off at first light, play 18 holes, go into the bar have a bite to eat washed down with a few pints all before the Forum opens at 2pm.
“Antrim is a great place to come to, we attract many visitors to the caravan park, the castle grounds, the lough shore and Reas wood. Let’s ensure that we provide a range of things for people to do at the weekend which includes full use of the leisure centre.
“Over the next few months I plan to engage with the public to see what the demand actually is to have the Forum open on a Sunday morning, some people contacted me to offer help and support in doing this and one person also suggested forming a focus group with representatives from the gym and clubs that use the Forum to help gauge opinion on this issue which I will consider.
“If I build enough evidence to show that this is what the public want then I plan to bring forward to the council a proposal to open on Sunday mornings and I would welcome any comments and opinions on this issue from the public. If anyone wishes to contact me on this they will get my details on the Antrim Borough Council website or look me up on Facebook.”