Top politicians from across the political divide have united to demand urgent action on investment in Lurgan community centres.
Both nationalist and unionist politicians have lambasted Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council for ‘shelving’ commitments to Lurgan’s deprived communities in favour of other areas.
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart revealed that community centres in Lurgan are in ‘a dire state with no investment for over 30 years’.
She called for swift action saying both north and south Lurgan need investment of at least £2m each.
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly backed calls for the investment adding that despite calls over decades Shankill still didn’t have a community centre.
Sinn Fein Cllr Keith Haughian said: “Numerous independent consultations show a dire need to improve facilities in North Lurgan.
“Time and time again this has been ignored. We believe that this needs addressed urgently by the Chief Executive of ABC council.”
Ms Lockhart pointed out that £1.5m was set aside for both north and south Lurgan community centre provision during the old Craigavon Council with vows to look towards additional funding for expansion and upkeep of the new premises.
“There is broad political agreement but unfortunately there would appear to be a leapfrogging of other priorities within the Council. The people of Lurgan deserve community facilities that are fit for purpose and meet the modern day standard.
Ms Lockhart has been lobbying the council to repair a failed heating system in the Mourneview Centre. “Whilst this has resulted in two halogen heaters being supplied to heat the main function room this is only a short term fix and greater investment is required.”
“The Mourneview and Avenue Rd sites, the North Lurgan Community centre and the Shankill area have been bereft of investment.”
Mrs Kelly said: “On a number of occasions I have raised the issue with council officials on how council is meeting its statutory obligation under section 75 of the Northern Ireland 1998 and its requirement to target social need.
“I spoke to Ms Lockhart about the lack of investment in Lurgan most notably in the Court ward which has one of the highest levels of social deprivation in the Borough and the fact that despite many promises the people of Shankill have no community centre.
“Despite our many political differences we are agreed that commitments made under the legacy councils, based on assessed need, must be honoured.”
Cllr Haughian said: “The issue of community centre provision in the Lurgan area is one which has been dealt with very poorly by CBC and now ABC.
“Our stance in SF has never wavered. Where there is a need for improvements to community provision in socially deprived areas then the Council should prioritise it. Numerous independent consultations show a dire need to improve facilities in north Lurgan.
“Time and time again this has been ignored. We believe that this needs addressed urgently by the Chief Executive of ABC council.
“If there is similar evidence that the need is there for Mourneview then these two projects should be progressed without delay,” said Cllr Haughian.
A Council spokesperson said: “The Council is committed to delivering capital projects and investing in infrastructure across the borough. Investment in Lurgan Community Centres is one of the capital projects currently under consideration.
“There are a large number of capital projects for council to consider, each of which require robust financial planning. In addition to the capital projects, there are also many other demands on council resources to continue to deliver essential services across the borough.”