DUP man speaks out in defence of the ‘crown’

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DUP councillor Bobby McKee has rounded on critics of the jubilee crown feature at Circular Road roundabout, describing it as “an outstanding success”.

As previously reported, there has been mixed public reaction to the metal construction manufactured for Larne Borough Council by apprentices at Larne Skills Development to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Last week, we reported that Sinn Fein MLA Oliver McMullan said he had “no problem” with the decoration as a temporary feature, but he queried how long it would remain there, given that the council has applied for planning permission. Mr McMullan said if it were to be a permanent fixture, it would “send out the wrong message because the crown pertains to one side of the community and the Larne borough has a large number of nationalist residents”.

Cllr McKee said he was “disappointed” with Mr McMullan’s remarks. The former mayor added: “The whole point of the exercise is to portray Larne in a different light than in the past and the crown has helped to achieve that, with pictures of it going all over the world, on Facebook.

“This is a positive story - a change from bad news. It was an excellent achievement by the trainees at Larne Skills Development to construct the crown and I would pay tribute to council officers and staff for the way it has been landscaped with planting.

“I believe it is an excellent feature that is helping to attract more visitors in to the town centre. It has been an outstanding success and I can see no reason why we would be panicking to get rid of it.”

The council has yet to decide how long the feature will remain in situ.

Originally commissioned as a temporary structure and not subject to planning permission, an application was subsequently submitted because it is proposed to feature the roundabout in Larne’s entry for Ulster In Bloom. It is also a contender for an award in a Jubilee Year competition launched by the Lord Lieutenant of Antrim, Joan Christie.