Councillors at odds over SELB pitch stance

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A DUP councillor has rejected the notion he could have

lightened local ratepayers’ load by pressing harder for an SELB cash contribution towards Rathfriland High School’s new synthetic pitch.

Junior McCrum , who represents Banbridge Council on the Southern Education and Library Board, said he had put as much pressure as possible on the Board.

“I refute that I’m putting it onto the ratepayer,” he said.

He spoke in answer to Ulster Unionist Councillor John Hanna, who said he thought Banbridge Council had been “sleeping in” and felt more of an effort might have been made at Board level to secure financial assistance.

The council having earlier written to the Board seeking a copy of the meeting minutes recording the SELB decision not to provide financial assistance towards the synthetic pitch, Councillor Hanna asked if a response had been forthcoming; according to council chief executive Liam Hannaway, it hadn’t.

Believing a response was overdue and convinced that Banbridge district had been treated unfairly, Mr Hanna saisd he wanted to know what had been discussed and when.

Mr McCrum said Mr Hanna could himself find the information by accessing the minutes of the Board’s February or March monthly meetings.

Party colleague Councillor David Herron, having watched as the first sod was cut on site, welcomed what he called the joint SELB/High School venture for Rathfriland, for which the Board had, after all, he said, provided the pitch.

Not to be deflected, Mr Hanna likewise supported the pitch development but said he was still far from satisfied; who wouldn’t provide the pitch, he said, when they were going to get a 3G pitch in return?

“It is still essential the SELB treat Banbridge and district equally to other areas where they have supplied money,” he said.