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Newcastle veladrome bid must not detract from provision of town’s leisure facilities

18 February, 2007

South Down SF Assembly candidate Willie Clarke has given a cautious endorsement for the Council's bid to secure funding for the building of a veladrome in Newcastle.

Cllr Clarke said:

"The view that Newcastle is the perfect venue for a veladrome must be examined in more detail as it may not necessary be the answer to the town's lack of leisure facilities.

"If such a complex was built in the Donard Park it would significantly reduce the number of playing fields available to local soccer and Gaelic clubs. A veladrome is used for a very specialised sport and it would have to be flexible enough to cater for more popular pastimes otherwise it could end up being a very expensive 'white elephant'. We should not source money for a facility that fails to meet the needs of the local population otherwise we could be left with an unused building like the St Patrick's Centre which was paid for by millennium funding and is now a constant drain on ratepayers.

"Any bid an Olympic type complex must not jeopardise existing funding that is available for the redevelopment of the Newcastle Centre and plans which include the option of building an indoor swimming pool. I firmly believe that the Council should put these plans on display and allow local people to have an input into this decision.

"Finally, there is little doubt the plans that Newcastle 2000 have put forward for a Gateway Centre would provide the type of state-of-the-art leisure facility that people are crying out for but we need to know where the funding will come from to pay for and run this facility. We have to be pragmatic and consider what is achievable but the ratepayers of Down district cannot be expected to pay tens of millions on top of their existing rates to fund such a project." ENDS

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