£25 million is sought to boost stadiums including Ballymena Showgrounds

WORK to secure £25million in government funding for the development of football stadia across the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council (MEABC) area has moved forward with the establishment of an Elected Member Forum.

Earlier this year, Larne FC, Ballymena United and Carrick Rangers joined forces with MEABC to form MEA United, and since then the joint bid to the Department for Communities has gained momentum.

Elected members were given the opportunity in recent months to attend workshops at each of the football grounds in order to view the current facilities and hear about community involvement in the development of the three clubs.

The setting up of an Elected Member Forum, with two representatives from each area involved, is the latest stage in the engagement process for the urgent release of the funding by the Minister for Communities, Carál Ní Chuilín, and the agreement of a way forward in the development process.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, said: “It was really encouraging to see so many Elected Members attend the workshop events and the feedback from the clubs has been really positive.

“In my hometown of Carrickfergus there was a real enthusiasm with councillors hearing from the club first-hand about their future plans. As Mayor, I am delighted to endorse all three clubs.

“Sport, particularly football, within Mid and East Antrim, plays a key role in ensuring active healthy lifestyles and community participation and engagement.

“The opportunity to enhance facilities and bring them up to a higher standard will ensure the health and safety of users and assist in creating facilities which increase and enhance community participation and involvement.

“This will ultimately contribute to individual and community health and wellbeing and it is very encouraging to see other clubs in Northern Ireland have now called on their councils to do the same as Mid and East Antrim.”

The councillors represented on the Stadia Funding Elected Member Forum are: Alderman Tommy Nicholl MBE, Alderman Noel Williams, Councillor Matthew Armstrong, Councillor Marc Collins, Councillor Gregg McKeen and Councillor Keith Turner.

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