McCrea demands answers over failures of doomed training college at Desertcreat

DUP MLA for Mid-Ulster Ian McCrea.INMM2414-327
DUP MLA for Mid-Ulster Ian McCrea.INMM2414-327

Mid Ulster MLA Ian McCrea has demanded answers over the doomed police and fire training college at Desertcreat, Cookstown.

In a statement, the Policing Board: “Following a detailed review carried out by the NICSC Programme Board the Steering Group has concluded that it would not be prudent at this stage to press ahead with the current project.

“The Steering Group has however, asked for reviews to be carried out to determine what the present position means for the procurement process and secondly to review the training requirements for the three services taking account of the current budgetary climate. As development of the College is a commitment in the Programme for Government, any decision on its future will be taken by the Executive.

Mr McCrea described it as a huge blow for Mid Ulster and ‘the potential economic benefits it could have brought to the area’.

“This project is an Executive Commitment and part of the Programme for Government, but there have been a litany of failures throughout the process of bringing this scheme forward which have placed it under threat for some time,” he said.

“It is vital that answers are provided as to why this project has failed.

“There were obvious benefits to Northern Ireland as a whole, but the impact on Mid Ulster in particular would have been significant. The public have a right to a full explanation as to why this will now not occur. I will be pursuing this issue alongside colleagues over the coming weeks.”

His party colleague Paul Givan said: “It is over 10 years since the site was bought by the Policing Board in Cookstown to develop a new state of the art integrated training college for the Police, Prison and Fire Service. So far over £12m has been spent on the project with a recommendation from the Steering Group that it should stop.

“The public will be rightly outraged by this lost opportunity and colossal waste of taxpayers’ money.

“There were exaggerated plans based on training tourism potential with lavish construction plans rather than a facility to meet the precise needs of the emergency services that would utilise it.

“The oversight of the project has led to serious questions being asked about the management processes that were subject to significant scrutiny by the Justice Committee.

“To blame this position on the current financial circumstances is to deny the reality that this project has been planned for over 10 years and money has been allocated, but each year this was handed back through a series of failings that fundamentally undermined a project which should have been operating by now. I will be raising this issue at the Justice Committee and calling before it those that responsible for this unacceptable position.”