Mid Ulster council’s anger over DoE loan refusal

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Mid Ulster council logo

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Mid Ulster council are considering launching a legal challenge against the DoE after they were denied access to a loan fund.

The issue was raised at the May meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee at Magherafelt on Monday.

Anthony Tohill, Mid Ulster council's chief executive

Anthony Tohill, Mid Ulster council's chief executive

Outlining the council’s financial borrowing arrangements to the committee, Chief Executive Anthony Tohill disclosed how the council had applied for departmental assistance only to be told that they were “not willing to provide any funding” to Mid Ulster.

“We have been trying for some time to get some movement from the department to get access to the £2 million that the executive have made available,” Mr Tohill said.

“We complied with every aspect of the criteria to deal with that loan and we were still denied access to that money.

“No council has been disadvantaged here because no council has got any money. They shut up shop. There wasn’t a single penny issued to local government out of the £2 million that was made available by the executive.”

A DoE spokesperson said the key reason the business case submitted by Mid-Ulster was turned down “was based on a the financial assessment of the business case which highlighted a major value for money issue.”

During the discussion, councillor Sean McPeake called the department’s decision “absolutely scandalous” and suggested that the council seek advice about a legal challenge.

“I think it is utterly disgraceful the way that this has worked out,” he told the committee, “not just for ourselves but right across the board. This £2m was going to go a long way in curing the ills of the ICT sector due to merging councils.”