MID and East Antrim Borough Council has welcomed the striking of a deal in principle for the sale of Wrightbus.
Earlier on Friday, bidder Jo Bamford confirmed an agreement had been reached with the Wright family for the Wrightbus factory and land.
As part of the deal, approximately 40 acres of land is set to be gifted to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council as a legacy for the people of Ballymena.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Maureen Morrow, said: “I am delighted by today’s announcement regarding the Wrightbus deal.
“This is a fantastic result for the workers, their families, Ballymena, and Mid and East Antrim.”
Councillors Gregg McKeen and Timothy Gaston were involved in discussions in recent weeks, representing Mid and East Antrim Borough Council during efforts to secure a buyer.
Councillor McKeen said: “I am so pleased for the workers and their families.
“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.
“It has been an extremely challenging time for all those affected, but today’s announcement has given us hope and cause for celebration.
“I commend the efforts and commitment of those who brokered a deal which will ensure our area’s proud manufacturing legacy and heritage has been protected.
“This has been a superb team effort, with our Chief Executive Anne Donaghy working shoulder to shoulder with business leaders and our partners in central government to support the securing of this momentous result.
“As a council, we welcome the support of the Northern Ireland departments and look forward to continuing to work together.”
Councillor Gaston said: “I want to pay tribute to the workforce and their families for the strength they have shown throughout this process.
“Few people in Ballymena don’t have family or friends who were employed by Wrightbus.
“It was absolutely critical a deal was secured for our town and its people, and I thank everybody involved for their tireless efforts to ensure this was the case.
“The gifting of this legacy land to the people of Ballymena is a remarkable gesture, and I have no doubt it will be key to more jobs for our people and the growth of our advanced manufacturing sector in Mid and East Antrim.
“I look forward to seeing completed buses rolling out of the site again in the weeks ahead.”
Council is in ongoing negotiations with Queen’s University in terms of research and development support, and the site will be proposed to form a key asset in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) project, which is part of Belfast Region City Deal and also part of Council’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem vision.
The proposed transformation of the lands into manufacturing space will be driven by the council. The council is now engaged in carrying out due diligence and final council approval.