Council chief says sorry to McCrum

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The Acting Chief Executive of Banbridge District Council has apologised to Councillor Junior McCrum after his name appeared on a proposal to open Solitude Park 24 hours a day which he never made.

Councillor McCrum had denied making the proposal despite council minutes recording him as having done so.

The council has now admitted it put Mr McCrum’s name against the motion, blaming the necessity for a quick decision for the move.

It appears to leave the controversial 24 hour trial opening of Solitude Park as a move which has gone ahead despite no-one proposing it.

The council statement said: “Banbridge District Council Elected Members are aware that the current Solitude Park trial 24-hour opening was based on the findings of a workshop under the auspice of the Banbridge Policing and Community Safety Partnership.

“Based on examples in other towns and cities, where the opening up and regular patrolling of parks actually led to a reduction of anti-social behaviour, it was considered a worthwhile option to try locally.

“Regrettably due to the speed of this process and the requirement to clarify Committee decisions before they go to Council, some confusion has been created resulting in an accusation that Councillor McCrum having proposed the trial, was now objecting to it.”

The statement continued: “The proposed trial opening considered at a Council Committee was a verbal addendum to a written report. It is clear that in recommending the report, Councillor McCrum was not aware that his recommendation incorporated the supplementary report.

“When the Committee Minutes were prepared for Council, it was necessary that the Solitude Park trial was separately identified resulting in a double recommendation, one for the written report and a separate one for the verbal report, thereby duplicating the proposal of Councillor McCrum.”

The statement goes on to offer councillor McCrum an apology.

“The Acting Chief Executive for Banbridge District Council, Mr Pat Cumiskey, has apologised to Councillor McCrum for not bringing this matter to his attention and thereby contributing to the confusion arising from this proposal.

“Banbridge District Council wish it to be known that Councillor McCrum has only ever raised concerns about this decision which was reached by full Council on June 30, 2014.

“The key question of whether or not this pilot scheme will be continued will be made at the conclusion of the trial at the end of September 2014. Councillors will have the opportunity to review the findings which will help determine if the concerns raised are legitimate and if extending the opening times of Solitude Park is a viable option”.

Defending Mr McCrum, David Simpson MP said: “It is with deep regret that the allegation in question was made against Councillor McCrum.

“Mr McCrum has worked tirelessly for the area and this recent allegation has attempted to tarnish his image across the Council.

“Whilst I recognise the apology from Banbridge Council, I do not feel it goes far enough to directly grasp the political agenda from an individual who has seen fit to discredit Councillor McCrum in this petty and unprofessional manner.

“I look forward to this situation being resolved in order to allow Councillor McCrum the opportunity to get back to his dedicated work of serving the people of Banbridge.”