Northern Ireland

Castlereagh council says no to Sunday opening

Salvation army sign
Image caption The Salvation Army used the facility when the pipes in their building froze during the winter water crisis

Castlereagh Borough Council has rejected a proposal to open a council function suite on Sundays.

At a meeting of the council's Central Services Committee, only Alliance and UUP councillors supported the proposal, but this was opposed by the DUP whilst the SDLP councillor present abstained.

Alliance Castlereagh Councillor Judith Cochrane, who had suggested the move, expressed her disappointment at the ruling.

Ms Cochrane decided to put forward the idea after arranging for the Salvation Army to use the facility when the pipes in their building froze during the winter water crisis.

Cllr Cochrane said the decision by the DUP would result in church groups seeking similar help being turned away in future.

"Other council facilities are open on Sundays and Alliance feels that the hire of the function suite should be an option depending on the merits of each application," she said.

"This decision harks back to a time when the swings were tied up on Sundays and hardly sends out a very progressive view of Castlereagh."

However, Jimmy Spratt, leader of the DUP group on the council, accused Cllr Cochrane of "a stunt".

He said all the other civic amenties were open on Sundays, many of them for church services, but opening the civic centre would mean bringing in extra staff.

"It's only really an issue here with the civic centre which was never open on a Sunday because there's absolutely no staff here," he said.

"I'ts an issue with health and safety, it's an issue with bringing staff in. All this is, is an Alliance party stunt by Cllr Cochrane to camouflage the failure of that party's work over the last six years in this council and to try and make a name for herself.

"If some church comes along with an urgent request, or some organistion needs it on a urgent basis, the council can always go back and look at that."