High priority given to ‘strategic investment’

Ballymena Town Hall. Editorial image.
Ballymena Town Hall. Editorial image.

The new ‘Super Council’ has agreed to establish not one but two voluntary Strategic Investment Boards to accelerate the region’s transformation.

The decision was taken at the new authority’s first monthly meeting, last Wednesday night, in Ballymena on the proposal of Cr Audrey Wales.

It had been pointed out to councillors by Chief Executive Anne Donaghy that a Voluntary Strategic Investment Board had been established within the predecessor council of Ballymena with the aim of effectively driving and co-ordinating a strategic regeneration programme for key sites within that borough and promoting major infrastructure projects including technology, transport and public sector estates.

Membership of that Ballymena Board, she pointed out, included not just councillors but the North Antrim MP and MLAs, statutory agencies and council officials and she stated that the members of the Ballymena Board had expressed an interest in the entity continuing in the Mid & East Antrim council.

Member of that Board and former Ballymena Mayor, Audrey Wales told the packed meeting in The Braid: “It really does work exceedingly well to have all the MLAS, MP and agencies round the table.”

Mrs Donaghy went on to point out that given the large geographical area and two distinct electoral areas covered by the new Mid and East Antrim authority that a single Board could have difficulty ensuring “the necessary strategic focus to drive regeneraion forward”.

Her subsequent recommendation for the establishment of two Strategic Investment Boards (one for North and another for East Antrim) which would each meet bi-monthly and also meet together bi-annually was accepted on Cr Wales’ proposal.

However, members went on to agree on the proposal of Cr Beth Adger, seconded by Cr Wales, that instead of the recommended four councillors per Board that five sit on the North Antrim Board and nine on the East Antrim Board.

They are - Crs Noel Jordan, Billy Ashe, Ruth Wilson, Geraldine Mulvenna, Gregg McKeen, Gordon Lyons, Maureen Morrow, May Beattie and Jim Brown Board for East Antrim and Crs Robin Cherry, Audrey Wales, Billy Henry, Timothy Gaston and Declan O’Loan for North Antrim.