Build new health village at Cascades, says Jones.

Scrap plans for a new leisure centre in Craigavon and build a health village in Portadown.

Portadown Times – Carmel Robinson

That was the message from local councillor David Jones – angered at what he believes is a lack of parity for ratepayers using leisure centres in Portadown and Lurgan,

Cllr Jones said future leisure plans should be reevaluated.

Following the announcement last week of a new £30m leisure village for Armagh and the ongoing controversy over plans for a £30m leisure centre in Craigavon, the UKiP councillor believes Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council may be in breach of equality legislation.

He said the council didn’t properly look at the facilities in the other towns: “When it was the old Craigavon Council it just affected this area. Now that we are the ABC Council, it also affects people from Armagh and Banbridge.

“The result is people in Lurgan and Portadown are still going to be paying the same rates but they aren’t going to have the same facilities as the people from Armagh and Banbridge.

“Yes Cascades needs work done to it. It doesn’t have to be moved.

“I have suggested that the leisure centre have some attachment to the new health centre to make it into a health village that you could incorporate the whole thing together,” said Cllr Jones, adding that the health centre already refers people to the leisure centre.

Cllr Jones said that it wouldn’t be fair for people from Portadown who have been referred to a leisure centre for fitness should have to travel to Craigavon when many people don’t have a car and are unable to use public transport.

The UKiP Councillor criticised the lack of infrastructure to deal with a prospective leisure centre and college at the south Lakes site in Craigavon.

The councillor pointed out the population sizes of each area according to the last census: Armagh 30,000; Banbridge 33,000; Portadown 30,000; Lurgan 35,000 and Craigavon 25,000.

He said it was inequitable that residents in the former Craigavon Council area comprising 90,000 people were to be given a £30 million leisure centre – with the same amount spent on an new leisure village for Armagh which has a population of just 30,000.

Cllr Jones said: “I believe ABC Council could be in breach of equality legislation. While the decision was made by the legacy Craigavon Council. When Council became ABC area the population size increased.”

“Was an Equality Impact Assessment carried out by ABC Council and if not why not?” he asked.

Credit: Carmel Robinson Portadown Times