Research role called into question for a second time

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

The £60,000 cost to ratepayers of a 12-month secondment of a researcher for community planning has been called into question yet again in the Council chamber.

A recommendation to second an officer from the NI Statistics & Research Agency for one year evoked a mixed reaction when it was put to the Mid & East Antrim authority’s Community Planning Committee last month but members went on to give their approval on a majority vote with the proviso of a review in six months.

However, at Council’s monthly meeting, last week, just prior to ratification of the committee-level approval, Cllr Stephen Nicholl raised concern over the cost and also queried the robustness of the business case.

Responding, Council’s Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy pointed out that Mid & East Antrim Council are “at the cutting edge of Community Planning”.

“We just need to get on with things. It is important to get the right evidence in the first year and get the baseline right to move forward, to get the detail and the detail is statistical analysis.

“I certainly would recommend we go forward with this recommendation on what is a critical issue. What we cannot afford to do is take any risks with the evidence...it must be robust,” said Mrs Donaghy, adding: “It was the will of the committee to go forward with it.”