Deal in final stages for transfer of Wrightbus land to ‘people of Ballymena’

MID and East Antrim Borough Council and the former Wrightbus owners are finalising a deal for the transfer of 40 acres of land to ‘the people of Ballymena,’ a council press release says.

At a special meeting of Council on Monday night, Elected Members approved the sealing of the transfer of lands at the Lisnafillan site.

Mayor Peter Johnston said: “This is brilliant news for Ballymena and Mid and East Antrim as a whole.

“This site will play a vital role in our economic growth in the coming years and the timing of this announcement is even more significant as we work to rebuild and recover our economy post-Covid.

“The proposed transformation of the lands into manufacturing space will be driven by the Council and we have already had strong interest from a number of major firms who would be keen to base their production here.

“These lands will be crucial in securing more jobs for our people and the growth of our advanced manufacturing sector in Mid and East Antrim.”

Councillor Gregg McKeen, who played a key role in discussions involving the transfer of the land as then Chair of the Borough Growth Committee, said: “I commend the outstanding efforts and commitment of all those involved in this deal, which will protect and enhance our area’s proud manufacturing legacy and heritage.

“While this process has taken longer than initially expected and has been hugely challenging due to a number of conditions placed on the deal, it’s great news we have negotiated to this position. I’m proud of Council’s role in both the transition of the company and the securing of this site.

“Sir William Wright CBE is rightly renowned as a global leader in manufacturing and innovation, and his contribution to Ballymena and Northern Ireland will be continued through this legacy land.”

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley added: “This has been a real team effort in Mid and East Antrim.

“Last year, the situation at Wrightbus was bleak and we were staring at the very real possibility of the gates being shut. It has been an extremely challenging time for many but this announcement today gives us very real hope.

“I am delighted that today the factory is open, under the superb direction of Jo Bamford, and the world-class workforce is back doing what it does best – leading the way in the manufacturing of state-of-the-art vehicles.

“I thank the Wright family for the transfer of land to the Ballymena community, which was a gesture befitting of company founder Sir William – a man who has provided livelihoods to thousands of our residents for generations, and who has put Ballymena and Northern Ireland on the global map.

“Thank you also to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, and in particular Chief Executive Anne Donaghy, for the leadership, support and continued hard work to ensure we maintain our proud reputation as the engine room of the Northern Ireland economy.”

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