Funding has been secured to develop a wide range of key infrastructure projects across Derry and Strabane.
Almost £2m is now set to be distributed among a number of major initiatives including around £500,000 for a new community centre in the Glen area of the city and funding to kick-start a new community centre in Lincoln Courts.
The relocation of Derry’s tourism headquarters from Foyle Street to Waterloo Place, an art tourism sculpture trail for the Sperrin region and an exploration of the inside of Boom Hall are also to be funded.
Council’s Lead Finance Officer, Alfie Dallas, said the £1.892 m has been earmarked by council following savings recorded in the first six months of the financial year.
A further £175,000 has also been identified for an overhaul of the car parking area at the council offices on Strand Road, alongside several rural development initiatives.
The remaining funding needed to begin the Kilfennan Greenway project has also been identified.
It emerged at Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning monthly meeting that the council has now invested almost £50m in capital projects since it came into being in 2015.
Speaking at the monthly Governance & Strategic Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday, Mr Dallas said they were “forging ahead” with these and other major projects identified as critical in achieving long-term positive transformation.
“This latest decision brings to over £130m the total which council has invested and planned since the new council began in 2015, a substantial portfolio.”
Sinn Fein Colr. Mickey Cooper said that since his party became the biggest on the council, there had been a significant increase in ambition, which he later said was why they had endorsed a “modest” rates increase, while other parties had voted against this.
He said: “We are very, very happy with these results and especially the figures that are coming through and I would thank the officers for all the work being done.
“ This is being spent right across the city and district,” he said, adding that in his own area “money being ring-fenced for a new Glen facility is absolutely key”.
DUP Colr. Drew Thompson welcomed the additional funding for projects that will finally take them over the line and allow them to commence, while Sinn Fein Colr. Maolíosa McHugh recognised the “ambition and great work carried out by all in this council”.
He said that often there were comments on social media and elsewhere claiming that areas outside Derry were getting nothing which, he said, was not the case. “This council does deliver, ensuring there is equality of provision across this council area”.
While agreeing with this, SDLP Colr. Brian Tierney responded to Colr. Cooper: “Anyone who thinks it’s in any way tenable to peddle the myth this was delivered because Sinn Fein was the largest party is absolutely deluded,” he said, adding that every political party had representation on the board which recommended the capital projects. This council does deliver collectively, not Sinn Fein individually.”
Colr. Cooper responded that nobody said they were Sinn Fein projects.
SDLP Colr. Gus Hastings said: “This is a good news story for our city and our region. A lot of effort has gone into the wider area and what is needed in the area. This document reflects what the needs are. Onwards and upwards.”
Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher agreed that this was indeed “a good news story coming out of here today.”