LARNE Council is to look into the possibility of setting up a minibus service to provide young people throughout the borough with better access to the leisure centre and other council-run facilities.
Councillor Drew Niblock feels that many residents are finding it “increasingly difficult” to travel to and from council facilities such as community centres, and has proposed that the local authority seek to draw down funding from “whatever source” to assist these people.
He has suggested that the funding could be used to purchase a minibus, which would then serve young people in all parts of the borough.
At the latest meeting of the development committee, he told fellow councillors: “We have put a lot of money into bringing the leisure centre up to scratch, but many residents are not able to avail of these improvements because of the lack of public transport.
“Access to other facilities in the town is also becoming increasingly difficult. For example, Translink has already explained to us the trouble they had in sustaining bus services from areas within the town to the cinema.
“Our young people have already voiced their desire to be able to travel into town to access services. If we want to get these people to use our facilities, then we must provide them with the means to do so.”
Alderman Winston Fulton echoed Cllr Niblock’s opinion and added: “The lack of bus services is very disadvantageous to young people in the borough. Not only are they losing out by not having easy access to certain services, but the council is losing out too.”
However, Mayor Councillor Bobby McKee expressed concerns about the proposal. “It is not that I am against this motion, but I am apprehensive about it. The number of people using the bus service to the Asda site at Redlands has been minimal, and to be honest most young people nowadays have cars anyway,” he said.
Councillor Brian Dunn added: “There is no point in setting up something like this without knowing whether or not there is need for it. I am not sure if there is a need for it, but if one is found then I would be quite happy to support the motion.”
Councillor Roy Craig also voiced doubts about the proposal and said he was unsure if there would be a big enough uptake to make a minibus service worthwhile.
“I have no problem with council officers investigating the need for such a service, but we have to be realistic,” he added.
The council’s chief executive Geraldine McGahey concluded: “A feasibility study will have to be undertaken, as a funder wouldn’t entertain the idea without one. A report will be presented to members in the near future.”
Do you think there is need for a minibus service to give young people better access to council services? Let us know your opinions by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to 8 Dunluce Street, Larne, BT40 1JG.