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COUNCIL PAPERS CONFIRM MEMBERS LABELLED MARINA MINUTE 'ERRONEOUS'

THE Larne Times can confirm that local councillors did, indeed, query the interpretation of the official record, relating to the controversial planning application for a marina and apartments at the Promenade.

Last week, we reported that elected representatives, in secret session, had engaged in a heated argument during a meeting of the rates committee.

At issue was a disclosure that the Heritage Lottery Fund refused to consider grant aid for Larne Borough Council's plans to upgrade facilities at the Promenade.

At the time of writing last week, more detailed information was not available, but the minutes of the policy and resources committee, which scrutinised the rates meeting minutes, have now been published.

It appears that Alderman Danny O'Connor set out to explain the position regarding the marina application, as he saw it.

The council had, in a resolution in November 2003, agreed to support the application in principle and subject to legal advice.

Alderman O'Connor pointed out that the motion had made no reference to apartments and he stated that the only legal advice that the council had received then was from Mark Orr, QC, who had stated that the Council was not entitled to sell a portion of the promenade required for marina development, as it constituted a public right of way.

The minutes record that, "He further stated that Council were going to lose 1 million funding for lighting and asked who had made the decision to go ahead, as support for Marina was dependant on legal advice".

Lorraine Hunter, the head of democratic and administrative services, replied that the acting chief executive, Trevor Clarke, would have to advise on this.

SUPPORT

The record shows that Alderman Jack McKee supported Alderman O'Connor, while Alderman Roy Beggs thought that counsel should be invited back to the council, "to give legal advice".

The minutes continue: "Alderman O'Connor queried what the Minister had been told and asked for the minute to be removed and a decision made. He proposed writing to the Minister involved, stating that the information was not accurate".

Finally, the minutes state that the policy and resources committee adopted a motion, proposed by the Mayor, Councillor John Mathews, seconded by Alderman McKee, that the relevant rates committee minute of November 1 2005, "is an erroneous interpretation of the council position".

Three successive environment Ministers have been tasked with making a decision on the Larne Marina Consortium application. When last approached for comment, the Department stated that it had commissioned an independent appraisal of the major scheme.

The rates committee minutes revealed that Mr. Clarke, "indicated that the Ministerial decision should be announced within coming months".

 
 
 

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