Ballymena Sports Awards set to continue

Flashback: Mayor of Ballymena, Cllr. Audrey Wales, and Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Hubert Nicholl, with the winners from last year's Ballymena Sports Awards. INBT06-234AC
Flashback: Mayor of Ballymena, Cllr. Audrey Wales, and Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Hubert Nicholl, with the winners from last year's Ballymena Sports Awards. INBT06-234AC

The popular annual Ballymena Sports Awards are set to continue after local councillors voted to retain the function.

Concerns had been raised in the local sporting community that the event might be axed as part of the local government shake-up.

However, Mid and East Antrim Council has opted to hold three separate awards for its three former Council areas of Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus.

The decision was taken by councillors at their November monthly meeting after CEO Anne Donaghy presented various options on how to move forward including continuing with existing arrangements with events in Ballymena and Larne only, holding one event to include sportspeople from across the borough, holding three separate events in each of the former council areas or, holding none.

Councillors went on to back, by a majority vote of 30, a proposal by Cr Mark McKinty seconded by Cr Audrey Wales, that separate events be held in Larne, Ballymena and, for the first time, Carrickfergus. with the potential also of holding a civic reception/photo call for winners borough-wide.

“Keeping it separate encourages grass roots sporting to come through,” said Cr McKinty and Cr Wales added: “It is important to celebrate success in their own area”.

Cr Lindsay Millar, however, put forward an amendment for a single event, stating that Council needed to “focus on the bigger picture”. While she found a ready seconder in Cr James McKeown, her amendment was lost by four votes for and 27 against.