Council hits back over bandstand criticism

The existing bandstand was removed last week to make way for a new structure.
The existing bandstand was removed last week to make way for a new structure.
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Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has responded to criticism on social media over the work to replace the bandstand in Ballymena.

Work got underway last week, with the existing bandstand removed to make way for a £104,000 new bandstand canopy structure.

A photomontage of what the Public Realm Scheme has in store for the Bandstand area at Broadway.

A photomontage of what the Public Realm Scheme has in store for the Bandstand area at Broadway.

A Facebook group carried out a public survey last week, after the work got underway, to gauge public opinion on the scheme.

In the wake of the post, the council issued a response to clarify and respond to concerns raised.

“The replacement of the bandstand is part of an extensive public realm scheme to regenerate the commercial centre in our largest Mid and East Antrim town,” the statement said.

It added: “Ballymena has experienced a number of significant challenges and setbacks within its local economy in recent times and council is fully committed to ensuring fast recovery and strong future economic growth in this area.

“As such, we will be continuing to use our budget to drive modern projects that improve industry, attract investment, generate jobs and bring people to Mid and East Antrim.”

The statement added that the Ballymena public realm scheme aims to “enhance public space, accessibility, commercial attractiveness and safety within the town centre”, ensuring that Ballymena is “fit for purpose into the future”.

“A key part of the scheme was to create a central focus, which would add new vitality and present opportunities for creative uses for the bandstand area. It will also be available for community use,” the statement said.

It added: “The cost of the new bandstand canopy structure is in the region of £104,000. It forms one part of the £3.5m regeneration scheme in Ballymena.

“Ratepayers are only paying for one third of this scheme. The remainder of the funding has been provided to the town by central government.

“The previous bandstand covered a small area of the central reservation. It has only been able to accommodate small-scale events, speakers and entertainers broadcasting to a limited audience in that area.

“As such, it has been under-used in its current location.

“The old bandstand will be preserved and relocated to the People’s Park, where it can continue to be enjoyed for many years.

“A consultation process for the new public realm scheme, including the new bandstand, was completed in May 2013 and at the time, won awards for public engagement.

“We appreciate the time people have taken to engage on this topic and we hope that the new bandstand will deliver great benefit to the town centre, traders and local community.”