Civic Building could become financial hub

Banbridge Civic Buildings, Banbridge District Council.
Banbridge Civic Buildings, Banbridge District Council.

Banbridge’s Civic Building looks set to become the new financial home of the new ABC (Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon) Council.

It is all speculation at the moment, but with Armagh and Craigavon set to fight it out for the right to be the Mayoral headquarters, Banbridge’s current council building looks set to play what is being billed as a reduced, yet important, role.

The Statistic Transition Committee, charged in masterminding the merger, met for the first time to agree their rules and regulations.

And while nothing has been agreed about the future of the current council buildings it is set to be a hot topic of future meetings of the STC.

Media reports at the weekend had suggested that Armagh’s current base looked set to become the new administration’s Mayoral headquarters, but one local councillor doesn’t believe that this will be the case.

“The chamber in Armagh is smaller than the one in Banbridge, and with it being a listed building I’m not sure how it could become the new hub,” said Councillor Junior McCrum, one of five local representatives selected by Banbridge District Council last week to join the STC.

“In Craigavon the scope is there to add in a couple more benches so to my mind that looks like being a more viable choice.

“It’s all speculation at the moment though and the 15 councillors on the STC will make a lot of important decisions over the coming weeks, including who the new Chief Executive will be.”

This will be one of the first items on the agenda of the new STC, set up to create a runway for the new council’s formation in May 2014.

Current Banbridge chief executive, Liam Hannaway, will see his current post made redundant along with that of the other two bodies involved in the merger.

The trio will be free to apply for any of the top jobs in Northern Ireland’s new council set-up.

The five elected councillors - Joan Baird, John Hanna and Carol Black of the Ulster Unionists and Paul Rankin and Junior McCrum of the DUP - were selected at a heated council debate on Monday evening.

The councillors were selected by the D’Hondt process - a routine which was opposed by the SDLP as there would be no nationalist representation from Banbridge.

However, the process was backed by Sinn Fein’s Brendan Curran, whose party have supported D’Hondt in the past.