Almost £50K for new gates at ex-army base

Entrance to Shackleton, Ballykelly. INLV0215-413KDR
Entrance to Shackleton, Ballykelly. INLV0215-413KDR

Of the almost £2 million spent on a former British army base in Ballykelly that has lay vacant for the past four years, almost £50,000 was shelled out on a new set of gates.

Shackleton Barracks was given free to the Northern Ireland Executive by the Ministry of Defence in 2011.

After a failed attempt to sell the 720-acre site, the executive sought suggestions for its redevelopment last year. OFMDFM has said the site will be sold in lots in the next financial year.

The OFMDFM revealed since October 2011 to October 31, 2014, costs have totalled £1,705.115. A breakdown reveals £345,174 was spent between 7 October 2011 to 31 March 2012; £598,049 for 2012/13; £476,236 for 2013/14 and £285,656 for 2014/15 to 31 October, 2014.

Of that money, approximately £415,000 was spent on maintenance, £812,000 on security; £389,000 on utilities and £almost £88,000 on ‘other’ costs.

An OFMDFM spokesperson said: “The building used to house the security staff requires heating. The main electricity cost is for the pumping station. However, electricity is also required for lighting in the building that the security staff use, for external lighting and to power CCTV.

“New gates were provided at the entrance to the Shackleton site for health and safety reasons. The cost for the gates is £46,000. Considerable maintenance costs were incurred from 2011-13 to clean out and repair the extensive drainage channels on the site in order to prevent flooding. There is also an ongoing maintenance requirement to ensure the drainage channels have a free flow of water in order to prevent flooding on the Shackleton site and to adjacent farms.”

SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle said he was “disappointed a masterplan for the site wasn’t engaged upon as Limavady Borough Council has suggested”.

“I think a lot of money has been spent on the site to keep it maintained and questions still arise around costs and who will be responsible for maintenance of the site and, in particular, the pumps and general drainage maintenance,” said Colr. Coyle. “However, I welcome the fact the Department of Agriculture will have an opportunity to move personnel to Ballykelly, and news from the finance minister on Monday that £1million extra will be provided to cover the DARD relocation costs.”

Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey said: “It still seems like a lot of money just to keep the site maintained, especially when you see so many other worthwhile charities struggling. I welcome the commitment to the DARD relocation, but it is still a lot of money spent on an empty site.”