‘Must Larne remain a second-class town?’

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I AM writing to express my disgust as to the way the Development Committee has dealt with the possibility of a new marina being constructed in Larne (Larne Times, February 23).

I can do nothing else but agree with the dismay of Mr Liddle, who cannot believe that the council could be turning down the opportunity for millions of private investment into the borough. This could have included new jobs, improvements in Larne’s image, better infrastructure of the area, more tourists, etc.

Yes, the sad reality is that Larne is a major port in Northern Ireland and possibly the only one without a marina.

But what from the taxpayer’s point of view is most annoying is that:

n Larne Council commissioned consultants to carry out a feasibility study as to where a future marina would be best placed. Thousands of pounds are likely to be spent in this exercise.

n The council’s favourite location was Sandy Bay. Yes, this is the same area where a few years ago, a synthetic pitch upgrade was rejected by a majority of local residents. I feel that history keeps repeating itself.

n The consultants came back with five options, being Sandy Bay the one given the lowest score. Others included Howden’s Quay, which I feel would be much better placed at least in terms of improving the area and doing away with the “war zone” feel every driver gets when he or she drives into Larne from the Carrickfergus side.

n Larne Council decided that they were not necessarily bound by the consultants’ recommendations and that Sandy Bay was still their preferred option. I wonder then why did they bother employing consultants, at the ratepayers’ cost to then decide the opposite as advised?

n In last Monday’s meeting they had the opportunity to change the motion as Councillor Dunn suggested to include general proposals on the council’s aspiration for a new marina. If that motion had been approved, that would have then allowed all stake holders to consider marina development options in possibly all five areas and the best project would have most likely succeeded.

The council members chose by a wide majority not to approve this motion. Whose interest that was in? As Councillor McKee said, that “appeared to be bringing the marina back to the Promenade through the back door. The people in Larne deserve better than that.”

I would like to ask Councillor McKee, has he actually thought of whether people in Larne deserve a marina or not?

The Larne Promenade Action Group really needs to start taking a wider view. Do they really think that Larne does not need a marina? Larne needs a marina and much more than a marina. It needs more jobs, it needs more shops, it needs more entertainment venues, it needs to improve its image.

With that in mind I think they should be opening their eyes and support the idea of water sport facilities in Larne, which (and as the consultants advised) should not necessarily be placed at Sandy Bay. They should be supporting at least the idea of a marina and showing a positive vision for one or several of the proposed areas. Clearly with decisions like this one, Larne will continue to be on the second class league of Northern Ireland towns.

Disappointed Resident,

Name and address withheld.