Ballymena councillors have given the go-ahead for a new book to be produced on the history of the town - at a cost of £55,000.
With Ballymena Council set to merge with Carrick and Larne councils next year under the Review of Public Adminstration, council officers have been considering ways to ensure the ‘legacy of Ballymena’.
The option of producing a book on Ballymena was first proposed back in July with Chief Executive Anne Donaghy providing an update to councillors at last week’s monthly meeting.
She advised that it would be a ‘high quality, coffee-table book’, and the project had already garnered sponsorship from two sponsors.
Seeking approval for work to get started on the book by the publisher, Ms Donaghy said the aim was to have the book finalised and sent to the publishers in May, to be published soon after.
“The content has to be researched by the publisher and a working group set up to agree the chapters,” Ms Donaghy said.
She added that the book would be 144 pages and there would be an initial print run of 5,000.
“The cost will be £55,000 which will be spread over two financial years,” Ms Donaghy said.
She added: “This money is being partly recouped with half coming through sponsorship and the selling of the book.
“The bottom line is that it will cost £25,000 for council.”
Councillor Monica Digney hit out at the cost of the publication of the book and added: “This is a lot of money to burden our rate-payers with.
“I think if this is not one of the worst proposals [to come before council], it’s certainly up there.”
Cllr. Digney said she was totally opposed to the project and added: “People are looking for jobs, people are looking for homes... this should be put to the electorate and ask them whether they want it.”
Cllr. Digney’s comments were met with derision from Alderman Martin Clarke who said: “Cllr. Digney does not live in the borough and is not interested in the borough; she doesn’t appreciate what’s gone on here.”
He added he was fully in support and pointed out that there was potential to make a profit from the book.
Cllr. Digney hit back saying that while she was not from the borough, she was listening to local people and their needs and wants, adding that she had “served this borough very well” since she had been elected.
“I put the people first,” Cllr. Digney said.
She added: “This a hare-brained scheme and it beggars belief.”
Ms Donaghy was keen to stress the validity of the project following Cllr. Digney’s comments.
“This is about the legacy of Ballymena and the Ballymena story,” Ms Donaghy said.
Alderman Maurice Mills proposed that council move ahead with plans for the book.
“I think this is very important and something significant,” Ald. Mills said.
He added that in towns in England and Wales, there were books on the towns’ histories but nothing like that in the Province.
Ald. Mills’ proposal was seconded by Ald. Clarke, and passed with a majority vote.