Mid and East Antrim Council is to establish not one but two voluntary Strategic Investment Boards to accelerate the region’s transformation.
The decision was taken at the new authority’s first monthly meeting in Ballymena.
It had been pointed out to councillors by chief executive Anne Donaghy that a voluntary Strategic Investment Board had been established within the predecessor council of Ballymena with the aim of effectively driving and co-ordinating a regeneration programme for key sites within that borough and promoting major infrastructure projects including technology, transport and public sector estates.
Membership of the Board, she pointed out, included not just councillors but the North Antrim MP and MLAs, statutory agencies and council officials and she stated that the members had expressed an interest in the entity continuing in MEA council.
Member of that Board and former Ballymena Mayor, Cllr Audrey Wales told the packed meeting in The Braid: “It really does work exceedingly well to have all the MLAS, MP and agencies round the table.”
Mrs Donaghy went on to point out that given the large geographical area and two distinct electoral areas covered by the new Mid and East Antrim authority that a single Board could have difficulty ensuring “the necessary strategic focus to drive regeneraion forward”.
Her recommendation for the establishment of two Strategic Investment Boards (one for North and another for East Antrim) which would each meet bi-monthly and also meet together bi-annually was accepted.
However, members went on to agree that instead of the recommended four councillors per Board that five sit on the North Antrim Board and nine on the East Antrim Board. Cllrs Noel Jordan, Billy Ashe, Ruth Wilson, Geraldine Mulvenna, Gregg McKeen, Gordon Lyons, Maureen Morrow, May Beattie and Jim Brown were elected to the Board for East Antrim and Cllrs Robin Cherry, Audrey Wales, Billy Henry, Timothy Gaston and Declan O’Loan to North Antrim.