His motion after a lengthy discussion was passed with the support of Council, basically empowering it to proceed to negotiate with the SEELB for the acquisition of the Kindle School in Ballykinlar and further enter into a service level agreement with the Board to provide other services.
Speaking at the Council meeting, Councillor Curran said: “Ballykinlar is ranked as an area of deprivation. Back in 2009 the school building and the land that it sits on was valued at £596,000 – now given the economic downturn the same asset is valued at £85,000. This is value for money at its best. We, the Council, have the opportunity to acquire this building and the land and turn it into an excellent facility for the local community – a community which currently has no youth facilities. The land and property is currently on the market.
“The local Community group (Ballykinlar and Tyrella) is very active in the area and is keen to work with the council with a view to fundraising as ideally the group would like to take over their own facility in the future. As stated, the Education and Library Board is keen to enter into an arrangement with the Council. The Council must proceed immediately to grasp this opportunity as it is a win, win situation.
“I already raised this matter at the recent Rates meeting but wanted full Council support for this excellent community initiative.”
Councillor Curran also added that the local GAA have also expressed an interest in supporting the acquisition of the premises.
Also supporting the proposal, Councillor Patsy Toman said: “There are many problems in the community of Ballykinlar and the area, many ant-social. It is heartbreaking for the elderly people in the community to be meeting in an old caravan because there is no facilities available.”
Councillor Willie Clarke said: “There is a danger that we keep raising the expectations of the people of Ballykinlar. We have to be prudent. But there as other community business models to look at such as The Lodge and the Community Centre in Castlewellan. Ballykinlar has a lot of young families and we need to ensure maximum use of the premises if acquired.”
But Councillor Eamonn McConvey explained as yet there was no business case made out for the former Kindle Primary school premises and it had taken 18 years to get the Ballymote Centre up and running. The approximate cost of refurbishing the building was in the region of over £200,000 to bring it up to standard added Michael Lipsett, Director of Recreation, and he agreed to put together a business case together for Council.
Councillor Curran’s motion was put to a recorded vote and supported by 21 of the 22 councillors present.