Speculation grows over centre’s future

LOCAL politicians have spoken out amid speculation that Dromore Community Centre is under threat of closing for period of time during the day as part of a cost cutting exercise.

It is understood that the centre could be forced to shut for several hours during the day as Banbridge District Council look for ways to keep costs down as the time for setting rates for this year fast approaches.

Council members were due to meet last night (Monday) in committee to discuss the best course of action to take, while a petition is being circulated in the town to try and ensure that services are not disrupted.

However, a Council spokesperson told the Leader that “nothing has been set in stone” and that no decision had been taken, adding that similar proposals could be considered for the council’s leisure facilities in Banbridge and Rathfriland.

Lagan Valley MP, Jeffrey Donaldson, said that he was “very concerned at the proposals,” adding that he hoped that there would be consultation on the matter before a decision was made.

“I understand that we are in a recession and that there may have been a downturn in the use of the Community Centre,” said Mr Donaldson, “but I would hope that vital decisions like this are taken with proper consultation.

“I wonder if the council could do more to promote the facility so the public could make better use of it.”

He added, “A reduction in hours would be a detrimental step and should not be done without consultation into how services and facilities can be improved in Dromore.”

His DUP party colleague, Councillor Paul Rankin, said that he would be willing to chair any public meetings into changes to services at the Community Centre.

“As a local representative my focus has and always will be keeping the rates down and providing the best value for the ratepayer,” he said.

“But whenever the council proposes to make changes which affect frontline services then I agree with Jeffrey Donaldson that there should be a process of community consultation and the views and opinions of people on the ground should be taken into account.

“The council was due to meet in committee to discuss a number of cost saving proposals as the rates are due to be set but without proper consultation.

“I couldn’t support any proposal to close Dromore Community Centre between certain hours during the week.”

He added, “I am aware of a petition which has been circulated between a number of businesses in the town and if a public meeting is required to guage opinion then I would be happy to play a role in that.