A newly constituted Citizens’ Advice Bureau covering the Mid and East Antrim Council area will have premises in the Larne Market Yard.
Members of Larne Borough Council’s development committee recently voted, in confidential session, to recommend that the council should offer a five-year lease to MEACAB from April 1.
The annual rent was to be set by the District Valuer, subject to further discussions with the new MEA Council about the cost of undertaking necessary work.
Mayor, Cllr Martin Wilson, expressed his belief that the council was not in a position to waive rental costs.
The council had invited expressions of interest for use of the Market House and received a single response from a company that has since located elsewhere.
A further expression of interest was received from Larne and district CAB, looking ahead to amalgamation with the bureaux in Carrickfergus and Ballymena, in line with the new council boundaries.
The finances still have to be resolved because Larne council ceases to exist on March 31 and cannot commit MEA to incur the necessary expenditure.
Cllr Bobby McKee supported the move, adding that the present CAB premises were “totally inadequate”.
Cllr Mark McKinty said the CAB’s work in Larne was being curtailed due to a lack of space.
Ald Jack McKee said he had greatest sympathy for the CAB, but reminded the committee that Tullygarley Residents’ Association had used the Market House on many occasions. He added that the community group lacked a permanent hall, or anywhere to store equipment.
Council chief executive Geraldine McGahey replied that Tullygarley Residents’ Association had requested use of the old office/weighbridge at the far side of the Market Yard. The council’s community relations officer had been tasked with liaising with the group to see how that facility could be of use.
Cllr Roy Craig said he believed that other groups were being accommodated at the Market Yard on a weekly basis.
Mayor Wilson said it was important the CAB service was provided in Larne in a central location, adding that Tullygarley Residents’ Association had an expectation that they would be facilitated when the Market Yard was refurbished, and he believed that they should be supported if possible.
Meanwhile, MEA council will be asked to approve a lease for the council-owned driving range at Carnfunnock Country Park.
Larne Council has also urged that discussions should take place in relation to the operation and maintenance of the gold course at Carnfunnock.