Dropping park project ‘will cost millions’

Portadown People's Park.

Portadown People's Park.

The threat to derail the People’s Park project remains, despite legal advice warning it could cost Craigavon Borough Council millions of pounds.

During confidential business at Monday’s mid-monthly council meeting, a legal advisor spoke to councillors about the implications of a decision to pull out.

The DUP had tabled a motion calling on council to withdraw from a £6.8 million shared space project to regenerate the park after a dispute over an Orange Order service.

The party claimed the People’s Park did not fulfil its role as a shared space after Orangemen had to withdraw plans to hold a religious service in the park following legal proceedings.

After Monday’s confidential discussion Sinn Fein’s Gemma McKenna said, “We are not surprised by the assessment of the solicitors employed by council. Sinn Fein councillors had warned of the financial liabilities that would be incurred and stressed the need for legal advice.”

Miss McKenna added, “Every year when setting the rate the DUP pretended to be guardians of the public purse and the rates watchdog. This motion has exposed their hypocrisy and shows their contempt for the ratepayer.

“Despite being told that their motion could cost council upwards of £5 million in recoverable EU funding plus millions more in breach of contract claims and fines they were quite willing to proceed and allow the ratepayer to pick up the bill.”

Fellow Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Duffy said, “Council would have been liable for legal actions for breach of contract as well as being open to allegations of wilful misconduct and improper and poor governance.

“Instead of looking to build for the future and develop community relations, unionism chose to put at risk a one-off £6 million pound EU funded opportunity for the borough. They only submitted to the inevitable when warned they could be made personally responsible for costs.”

The DUP told the ‘Times’ their motion to withdraw from the project still stands.




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