Sinn Féin proposal for clarity on air show budget rejected by council

Unionist councillors have expressed frustration with the party's approach.

Sinn Féin proposal for clarity on air show budget rejected by council

A Sinn Féin proposal to bring a report back to a local council committee detailing the costings of a proposed air show has been defeated.

Councillors on Causeway Coast and Glens Leisure and Development Committee approved a date and location for the International Air Show event to be held in 2022.

The event is set to take place on the weekend of September 10 and 11, with the flight path to be centred between the towns of Portstewart and Portrush.

However, Sinn Féin raised concerns over an absence of budget projections on a report presented to the Committee, and during an ill-tempered spat among councillors, proposed a further report be brought.

Cllr Leanne Peacock

Ballymoney Sinn Féin councillor Leanne Peacock said the council had shown a 'dereliction of duty'.

“We've got to this stage, agreeing specific details of this project, but we're yet to have a single estimate provided to this council for what it will cost us,” she told the council.

“As custodians of the public purse, it's a complete dereliction of our duty to proceed without a single estimate of what this will cost our rate payers.

“We have seen where such reckless decision-making has got us in the past. This council has spent thousands on consultancy fees a year before the event.

“It's outrageous that members are not being provided with the most basic detail to make decisions; the cost, which is usually the starting point.”

Cllr Peacock proposed a report be brought back to the Leisure and Development Committee with costings included, along with details of affordability checks carried out on the proposal.

Council Mayor Richard Holmes pointed out a report with costings was already due to come back to the Committee, before opening the floor to speakers.

Council officer Richard Baker said the event was still in the early stages of planning.

“What we've done is set the foundation of the event; the date and the location. There has been no discussion about the specifics through the working group,” he said.

“That will be developed and worked through the project board set up for the International Air Show in 2022.”

Cllr Aaron Callan has been central to the Air Show's planning.

Limavady councillor Aaron Callan expressed his frustration with the Sinn Féin response to the event.

“From day dot, Sinn Féin have opposed the air show in any form. It's not based on finances; it's based on ideological opposition to the fact that the RAF would be involved,” said the DUP councillor.

“These events draw visitors into our area, that support the businesses that pay their rates, and the Air Show is a critical part of that going forward.

“If Sinn Féin were so concerned about it, they would have appointed someone to the working group, which they refused to do.”

Cllr James McCorkell

Independent councillor for Limavady, James McCorkell, referred to a comment by Cllr Dermot Nicholl at last month's committee about the event being linked to the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

“At least Dermot at the meeting said she wasn't his Queen – fair enough. Call a spade a spade. I might not like it, but stop the nonsense, for goodness sake,” he said.

“Just say you don't want it. Don't come up with excuses and nonsense about estimates. We've held this air show for numerous years; the estimates are already there,” added the former DUP representative.

A vote was then taken on the Sinn Féin proposal, which was defeated by 24 votes to 11.

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