Trevor Lunn MLA said: “It is deeply shocking that nearly a quarter of million pounds has been spent on rent at this and previous premises. The Ulster-Scots Agency website tells us that they are currently working on a business case to open this visitor and information centre. If that’s the case then why didn’t they wait until the business case was approved before they started renting this expensive city centre space?
“I would call for clarification from the Ulster-Scots Agency and the Minister Nelson McCausland on this issue.
“The Alliance Party supports both the Ulster Scots and Irish languages, as we feel that they both contribute to the culture of Northern Ireland. We are do however want to see efficiency in spending, given the tough economic times we face.
“This office space is in a prime location, in Belfast city centre, and I would question the wisdom of the Ulster Scots Agency in renting this unit if they are not yet ready to open to the public.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Here is the written question that Trevor Lunn asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure:
Mr T Lunn
To ask the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure how much money the Ulster Scots Agency spent on renting offices in (i) Belfast; and (ii) Newtownards, in each of the last three years.
In the last three years the Ulster-Scots Agency has paid the following amounts towards the rental of its offices in Belfast, 2007 – £28,101.50; 2008 – £77,849.75 and 2009 – £119,798.39. The increase in rent is due to the new office accommodation now used by the Ulster-Scots Agency at 68-72 Great Victoria Street, Belfast which is significantly larger than the previous premises rented at Franklin House.
The Agency does not have any offices in Newtownards.
See this page for information on their centre in Great Victoria Street
Before being based on Great Victoria Street they were based in Franklin House on Brunswick Street, also in Belfast city centre.