'LACK of consultation dominated' last week's (Monday 24 June) packed meeting of Dundarave residents according to Bushmills Residents Environmental Form (BREF).
BREF organised the meeting in response to the 'leaked story' claiming the Quigg VC Statue was being moved to facilitate the plans for the much needed Bushmills Arrival Hub to deal with traffic issues caused by increased visitor numbers.
This related to the council Leisure and Amenities meeting held on June 11 'in committee' with no press or public present, where the DUP blocked a move to adopt a report which favoured the Dundarave Car Park option.
The veil of secrecy shows little signs of being lifted with the Chronicle understanding that this option was approved again 'in committee' at the full council meeting on Tuesday June 25.
This is unconfirmed and Causeway Coast and Glens have not responded to a request for a statement on issues relating to the Bushmills Arrival Hub, including the lack of consultation made last week.
Local political representatives also attended the special meeting with Claire Sugden MLA acting as Chair.
Speaking last Thursday BREF Chairman, Mr Derwyn Brewster told The Chronicle: “Everyone is agreed that there has been no engagement with the community in respect of these discussions and decisions being taken in committees not open to the public.
“This is very very disappointing and unacceptable. People want to know what will be done do address this issue of transparency in the immediate and longer term?”
Mr Brewster continued: “The DUP in particular need to come out of the closet in respect of these issues and explain their actions.”
According the the BREF statement, DUP Alderman Sharon McKillop had been questioned about “her level of consultation and why she opposed the (Dundarave Car Park) plan on behalf of the residents,”
Cllr McKillop had described the AECOM report as “flawed” and was an “undemocratic process,” at the June 11 meeting, telling The Chronicle in a joint statement with other Causeway DUP councillors last week that: “we will not be advocates for organisations, groups or individuals who do not have the best interests of the area as their primary objective.”
Speaking to The Chronicle again, Alderman McKillop clarified her position saying: “In my capacity of elected DUP representative of the area, I have had several meetings with residents of Dundarave including Clogher Court residents who's houses abut the Dundarave car park as well as others who live in Bushmills and the surrounding hinterlands.
“I know first hand what their issues are and I will act in the best interests of all with regards progressing the development of an Arrival Hub in Bushmills' .
“Representation' on this matter should not be prescriptive to advantage any individual or grouping they will have to meet the test of resolving the area's traffic and parking congestion, road user and visitor safety issues of the area.
“The community consultation process takes place during all of Council's Capital project's at stage 2 of the process.”
Speaking after the meeting Mr Mervyn Storey, who also attended the meeting, said: “The last election clearly proved who speaks for Bushmills. People gave us the mandate to represent them and we will endeavour to work to represent the people of Bushmills and the wider area.
“It is vitally important that the genuine concerns raised at the meeting are listened to."
For more see this week's Ballycastle Chronicle