Concern over secrecy in ABC Council

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -  20th October 2018 - 'Doug Beattie MLA pictured at the Ulster Unionist Party Conference 2018 in the Armagh City Hotel.''Photo by Kelvin Boyes  / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th October 2018 - 'Doug Beattie MLA pictured at the Ulster Unionist Party Conference 2018 in the Armagh City Hotel.''Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Share this article

Concern has been expressed at secrecy within Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council as it fights a ruling by the Information Commissioner’s Office to reveal its South Lakes Master Plan.

A quest to reveal the Master Plan began by campaigners against the granting of planning permission for a new campus of the Southern Regional College at Craigavon Lakes.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said he is concerned that councillors may not be operating with full knowledge of the plan.

“In June 2019 the Information Commissioner found that the council had not applied the regulations for withholding information and gave the council 35 calendar days to release the information,” said Mr Beattie.

“This information was in respect to a South Lakes Master Plan which many believe will show that there was a pre-determination in respect to the SRC planning application to build on a Craigavon lakes site.

“This planning decision is already subject to a Judicial Review.

“Now it has become clear that the Council will now appeal this decision using taxpayers money yet have still not allowed the elected representative, those who represent the people of the ABC council area, to see a copy of the plan in order to make an informed decision.

“I do not believe this is in the rate payers interest to use their money to fight the disclosure of a plan that should have been made available to them and their elected representatives in the first place.

“To that end I ask if elected representatives were informed about this decision and if they were and feel it is a good use of taxpayers money to keep them in the dark over this issue can they explain their rationale to that fact,” said the Upper Bann MLA

A Council spokesperson said: “We are not in a position to comment on active legal proceedings.”