Council will not buy courthouse

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LARNE borough Council has withdrawn its interest in purchasing the local courthouse.

The 110-year-old Victoria Road building, which is directly adjacent to Smiley Buildings, is now vacant after the NI Courts and Tribunals Service transferred all Larne court business to Ballymena.

And the local authority was the only public body to submit an expression of interest in purchasing the site.

However, councillors have now agreed that it has “no urgent need” of the facility and has withdrawn its interest.

Minutes of the monthly meeting in April state that Councillor John Mathews felt the courthouse would be a suitable site for car parking and could “enhance the value” of Smiley Buildings if it was used for that purpose.

He was supported by Alderman Roy Beggs, who highlighted that the council was currently renting parking spaces.

But Ald Winston Fulton pointed out that the reform of local government was just around the corner, and said he did not believe the local authority required another building. He suggested that the future of Smiley Buildings should be resolved before the council decides to acquire more property.

Chief executive Geraldine McGahey reminded councillors of “a previous experience” of purchasing property for whichwhich there was no urgent need.

Nine members voted in favour of Ald Fulton’s proposal to withdraw the council’s interest in the courthouse, with the remainder abstaining.