Larne ‘needs investment like proposed marina’, says developer

LARNE councillors have been urged to “search their souls” and ask if they could live with turning down a £40m investment for the town.

Larne Marina Company director Bill Liddle said that, at a time when so many businesses are feeling the effects of the economic downturn, it was “ridiculous” that public representatives appeared to be turning their back on a scheme that he believed could really help turn the town around.

“Our plans for a marina village at Sandy Bay can only be seen as a plus for the town. It will bring in 40 jobs or more and the decision has to be taken to move it forward. Even if people see it as not being viable at this time, now is the time to make plans and get approval for when the economy changes.

“Larne is desperately crying out for investment and the marina village offers a £40m investment. If the council doesn’t support it then that investment will be lost and Larne will continue to be the poor relation compared to other towns,” he said.

Mr Liddle said he was “extremely disappointed” at councillors who failed to back a motion at a committee meeting on Monday evening which would have authorised officers to invite proposals from interested parties to deliver on the council’s aspiration for a marina and a wider option to invite proposals on water-based activities.

“We are in shock that just a few weeks ago the councillors supported a proposal that Sandy Bay is the only option for marina facilities in the borough, yet now they have changed their mind.

“It is just ridiculous that councillors in this day and age should turn their back on an opportunity like this. They are supposed to be leaders in the town and seek opportunities for its betterment.

“We are at a time when the business community is suffering and they are jumping about making mad decisions from one week to another.

“There are those councillors who have been steadfastly behind us but there are others who really need to look at their rationale. The marina debate has been going on for 12 years and we can only see the pluses for the town.

“We would ask those councillors who are against it to talk to us to learn more of how it would be of benefit to the town. People have moved on from the promenade debate. The promenade won’t be lost, it will be modernised. It really is a win-win situation.

“It’s not as if there is a queue of investors waiting to come into Larne. We wish there were 10 schemes like the marina, but there isn’t,” said Mr Liddle.