An agreement by councillors to spend £106,000 lighting up a walkway through Galgorm Castle Golf Club could face a legal challenge, SF Cllr Paul Maguire has claimed.
Speaking vehemently against a recommendation to provide the lighting, Cllr Maguire told a Council committee, last week, that to approve it would be “an absolute waste” of ratepayers’ money and he also established that the local authority had no legal obligation to light the path for which it undertook a leasing agreement back in 2001.
A committee-level proposal by Cllr Tommy Nicholl to provide lighting, was, however, agreed by Cllrs. Cherry, Clarke, Hanna, Mills, Adger, Clyde, Dunlop, McCaughey, McClean, McNeilly, T Nicholl, H. Nicholl, Robinson, Wales and B. Henry. Against the proposal were Cllrs. Digney and Maguire while Cllrs McAvoy, Gaston, O’Loan and Gillespie abstained. Cllrs. J. Henry, Carson and Currie were absent.
Cllr Maguire called for the vote to be recorded on the grounds that he was “aware of a possible legal challenge to this recommendation, if approved”.
Earlier, in an update on the issue, Council Officer Aidan Donnelly said the installation of safety lighting along the path, which runs on lands owned by Galgorm Estates Ltd., from the entrance to the Golf Club through to Sourhill, would allow increased use for walkers, especially in winter.
He also informed them that of 152 respondents to a survey of 219 users carried out between December 2-7, 49% were daily users, 19% weekly and 31% occasional. Eighty per cent did not use the path after dark due to a lack of lighting while the 20% who did mainly used it for dog walking or to access work at the Golf Club.
Mr Donnelly also said a health and safety check during darkness noted that without vehicle lights it was extremely hard to discern road from path and that a daytime check had identified “a number of potential trip hazards” though, he confirmed, the path had no accident history going back over a number of years.
However, he said, lights were “considered appropriate at this time...both to extend usage and safety for path users”, adding that the electricity cost per year for a lit pathway was estimated at £2,030.
Responding, Cllr McMaguire claimed a business case had been “built around a health & safety issue which simply doesn’t exist” and that the survey had failed to prove significant need or demand for lights.
He said: “They would be an absolute waste of £106,000 of ratepayers money and of £2,000 going forward per year. If council were to provide hi-vis vests and torches to all those who indicated that they might use the path at night, we’d have change from £100”.