Ratepayers ‘are losing out’ after 
go-ahead for £30m leisure centre

An image of the site
An image of the site

A councillor has claimed his town’s ratepayers are losing out after the announcement of a £30m leisure centre in a neighbouring area.

Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council announced this week the multi-million pound spend on a new leisure village for Armagh City.

The decision comes amid controversy over plans to close Portadown’s Cascades Leisure Centre, Waves Leisure Centre in Lurgan and Brownlow Leisure Centre in Craigavon and build a new £30m leisure centre in Craigavon.

Portadown Ukip councillor David Jones believes Armagh is benefiting per head of the population at the expense of people in Upper Bann with a much larger constituency.

He said: “I find this totally wrong to lose our leisure centre in Portadown, an important amenity for the community, for one in Craigavon – while Armagh, with a much lower population, is having the same amount spent on it on refurbishment.

“I have to ask, where is the equality between ratepayers of Portadown and Armagh?

“Remember the Portadown facility could have been upgraded like Armagh.

“We ask, does this seem fair for the ratepayers of Portadown? We feel not.”

Mr Jones added: “While Ukip continues in its opposition to the Craigavon development is it not time the local ratepayers made their feelings known to other local councillors or will it be a case of not missing something till it’s gone?

“We feel it’s time Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council had a rethink on the Craigavon Leisure Centre proposal and would ask them even at this late stage to do so.”

At Monday night’s meeting the council agreed the new Armagh leisure village should be in the Lisanally area.

The site will accommodate an enhanced range of shared indoor and outdoor facilities, including a 10-lane, 25-metre swimming pool, sports halls, studio, fitness suite and thermal spa.

It will also incorporate an ultra-modern multi-sports indoor arena and a new specialist strength and conditioning facility.

Outdoor facilities include an oversized floodlit artificial multi-sports pitch, as well as four natural turf multi-sports pitches, two of which will be floodlit.

A hockey pitch and athletics track will also form part of the development.

Lord Mayor Gareth Wilson, said: “Now that Lisanally has been identified as the preferred location for this project, I’m confident it will close a significant gap between existing and future sport and leisure needs and bring much greater benefits for our clubs, community and schools.”