PITCH BATTLE: Concern is expressed over delay in £90,000 repair scheme at Wakehurst multi use games area

The multi-use area at Wakehurst. Picture: Google Maps

CONCERN has been expressed at a delay in a £90,000 repair scheme at a multi use games area in the Wakehurst district of Ballymena.

In a statement to ‘Ballymena Daily’, Traditional Unionist Voice councillor Matthew Armstrong said: “Unfortunately last winter the surface carpet of the Wakehurst MUGA was damaged by a period of flooding and since then efforts have been made by myself and other councillors to have it rectified in a timely fashion.

“Covid-19 has obviously affected the initial timescales given but to now find out, by chance, that the project has been pushed into the next financial year will be of little comfort to the numerous users who rely on it, especially with the resumption of the football season being on the horizon.

“I have highlighted before the lack of pitches with floodlight provision for winter nights and whilst I continue to press for this to be addressed it is nonetheless frustrating for both myself personally and the many teams who seek space to train and play.

“With the Wakehurst facility out of action, that some Ballymena based teams and clubs have to travel to Kells, Clough or on occasion outwith the Borough itself, is lamentable and I continue to seek funding through Council to have it repaired sooner rather than later.

“Perhaps I should also note it was scheduled to be replaced this spring, so effectively a 12 month delay.”

The councillor had also expressed concerns during a committee meeting of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council.

Cllr Armstrong at a Council meeting which was live-streamed.
At the meeting, the Council’s Director of Operations, Philip Thompson, said there had been estimated costs of £90,000 to replace the surface at the MUGA which he said was well used not only by the local community but also by Slemish College.
Mr Thompson added: “The issue at the moment is that it is currently not in the capital plan. There is a £90,000 cost to replace it and we need to look at where that, if it is to be done within this year’s capital expenditure, where the savings can be made to do, that otherwise it will be pushed back into next year’s capital plan.”
Councillor Armstrong informed the meeting they had previously been told the work would be done and that the money was there.
Regarding the delay, he added: “It shows us in a very bad light”.
He said he was frustrated with the “whole saga”.
Mr Thompson said he would take onboard the comments and said he understood the “frustration” of users but that the Council had to see how they could accommodate the scheme within budgets.

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