Mid-Ulster businesses have ‘already made huge investment’ in stalled Police college

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Cookstown Council have expressed their ‘deep regret’ that the Community Safety College at Desertcreat will not commence as planned.

In a joint statement from Chairman Cllr Pearse McAleer and Chief Executive Adrian McCreesh the Council said: “Issues preventing the immediate commencement of this project must be addressed, as a matter of urgency.”

The statement continues: “We in Council await formal notification and the detail behind this decision, but wish to reiterate the economic significance of this project throughout Mid Ulster and indeed the wider western region.

“The issues preventing the immediate commencement of this project must be addressed, as a matter of urgency and we call on the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and the Northern Ireland Executive to remain steadfast to their commitment in the Programme for Government, that the Northern Ireland Community Safety College will be delivered at Desertcreat, Cookstown as an urgent economic priority.

“Businesses throughout Mid Ulster have already made a huge investment in preparing themselves to maximise the economic opportunities arising from this major capital project…such efforts must not be lost to the Mid Ulster economy.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Gilbert-Ash (part of the FGP Consortium) said: “We have been informed by letter this afternoon that the client has taken the decision to discontinue the tender process.

“We are disappointed that we have not been able to agree a commercially viable way forward despite our best endeavours and considerable investment of both time and money in developing this project.”

Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy said he was ‘disappointed’ by the latest setback.

Mr Molloy said: ““I am disappointed that the programme team has decided that the preferred bidder cannot fulfil the contract of the joint emergency college at Desertcreat near Cookstown.

“However, while I welcome the fact that Desertcreat remains the prime site for the development of the training college once the current problems are resolved, I cannot emphasise strongly enough the need to put in place a new tendering process as a matter of urgency.

“I am seeking a meeting with the Strategic Investment Board and the Justice Minister to impress on them this sense of urgency and to ascertain exactly what measures they have in place to ensure the projects is progressed without undue delay.

“This college has the potential to economically reinvigorate the entire Mid Ulster region, not only through the construction but by the ancillary services which it will create in the supply and services sector.”