Derry’s £5million Vital Venue branded ‘dismal value’

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A temporary venue costing almost £5 million for Derry’s year as cultural capital has been branded an “unbelievable waste of money.”

Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the Taxpayer’s Alliance, says the £4.6million ‘Vital Venue’ -details of which were announced by Department of Social Development (DSD) minister Nelson McCausland on Monday - represents “dismal value.”

He says for the cost the Derry public should expect “gold plated thrones rather than short-term seating.”

The temporary venue, which will be located at Ebrington, will cost the public purse around £13,000 per day throughout 2013.

It will be able to accommodate up to 4,000 people.

Mr Oxley says the temporary nature of the venue also undermines the intended lasting legacy of the city’s year as culture capital.

“Spending £5 million on temporary seats is an unbelievable waste of money. Ultimately taxpayers will be left with nothing to show for the huge bill they are picking up.

“The scheme represents dismal value and severely undermines the idea of the City of Culture event creating a lasting legacy. For a £13,000 a day residents will be left wondering if they are paying for a haul of gold plated thrones rather than short term seating,” he says.

Minister McCausland said the Vital Venue “will provide the centrepiece for delivery of the events programme as an essential additional space that will host both large scale local community-driven events and events of an international standard.”

Both the city’s SDLP MP Mark Durkan and Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney have welcomed the new venue.

Mr Durkan said the announcement was “significant” for the City of Culture year, while Mr McCartney said, “it’s very important to have the infrastructure in place to host many of the events that will be taking place in our city throughout 2013.”

But our readers have also questioned the expense on a temporary venue.

Writing on the Journal’s Facebook page Adeline Robinson said the £5million venue was “absolutely crazy” while Leona Barr added; “Temporary, what’s all that about?!!! Permanent facility should be more like it, Derry needs them to keep coming back. Obscene money thrown at something short-lived!”