Derry City and Strabane District Council have agreed to spend up to £19,000 updating a £66,000 business case for Magee’s expansion.
The council took the decision despite some misgivings over the cost expressed at this week’s Business and Culture Committee meeting.
The budget extension “for additional work required to update the business case for the expansion” for Magee was requested by council officers at the meeting on Tuesday held in Strabane.
A report brought before the committee stated that in 2014, following a tender exercise the council in conjunction with urban regeneration company Ilex had engaged RSM McClure Watters to prepare the business case at a cost of £66,000. All this money was funded in full by the Council.
The business case has since been submitted to the Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry for consideration.
The report states that it is “crucial that pressure is maintained” on the Minister’s Department to approve the extension of Magee.
It also states that Ulster University’s new Pro Vice Chancellor has also been considering the business case.
“A number of queries have now been raised that require a response,” the report states.
“In order to ensure that these and any further queries are fully addressed and answered and to ensure the business case remains up to date, it has become necessary to extend the consultant appointment up to a maximum additional value of £19,000 in line with originally tendered rates.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper said that given the importance of the matter to the future of Derry’s economy, they were happy to support the additional funding but said that they hoped this was a one-off.
Sinn Fein Councillor Maoliosa McHugh questioned what type of questions were being asked that would potentially cost thousands to answer.
“This almost one third of what has already been spent to address queries,” he said.
Committee chairman, SDLP Councillor Gerry Diver said however; “It is very much the case that in order for these things to have authority they have to be done in a certain way.
“It is very difficult to overstate the importance of this institution to our region.”
SDLP Councillor John Boyle added: “It is clearly very important for this city and region. We continue to strive to achieve the goals of having a very significant university campus located in this city and district.
“If it is money well spent, we will all welcome that,”