‘We back a play park, not fiscal suicide’

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The DUP says it fully supports a proposal to build a new play park in Strathfoyle but refused to back a motion that, it says, would have left ratepayers liable for the entire bill for the project.

In a statement the party said: “Today (December 1) at our local Derry City and Strabane District council meeting Aldermen [Drew] Thompson and [David] Ramsey battled to try to protect the ratepayers and also promote equality in relation to the capital plan for our council area.

“Recent play park proposals following the normal processes with all capital projects were all part funded by council with up to 90 per cent funding from other funders. It is important that we ensure value for money for our rate payers and always try and be fair to everyone.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP today forced through a proposal for council to pledge 10 per cent funding for the Strathfoyle play park with a smoke screen of other funding which is not realistic and probably won’t happen because of the timescale involved for spend.

“The DUP today proposed option 2, a realistic and fair proposal that is in line with the process used for all other capital projects. Sinn Féin and the SDLP must be held to account as to why they forced through a proposal that will remove the possibility of external funding being secured through the Rural Development Programme. Council now have reduced funding available for other projects in the capital plan.

“Today our opponents supported financial suicide and threw equality out the window as well as setting a very dangerous precedent for other areas of our city and district who may well try to have major projects in their area pushed through the system in this way.

“We in the DUP are fully supportive of a playpark in Strathfoyle but the political point scoring of the Nationalist Councillors today was deplorable to say the least.”

Option 2 was for Council to confirm £172,938 in match funding for the project and to seek £150,000 in funding opportunities elsewhere and to

make a further application to the Rural Development Programme when the programme opens (anticipated April to June 2016) to secure the balance of

funding.

This would have allowed the project to be completed by September/October 2017 dependent on the Rural Development Programme commencing as above.

Council instead agreed to committ full funding and allow the project go to tender with immediate effect with completion pencilled in for April 2017.