A debate on a street naming application brought before Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council saw tensions rise in the chamber, with one Lurgan councillor urged to “respect the function of the Chair” of the planning committee.
Members were told an application had been lodged to name the remaining phases of a current development consisting of 198 houses on the Annesborough Road in Lurgan.
In total, names had been submitted for four phases of the development. These were Drumna Grove, Drumna Close, Drumna Lane and Drumna Mews.
It was explained the applicant has chosen these names for the remaining phases of the development as they “marry with the Drumna theme already established”, as Council has previously approved the street names Drumna Avenue, Drumna Walk and Drumna Drive.
Having assessed the application, Council’s planning officers confirmed they were of the view the application applies with policy and recommended the names be approved.
However, Alliance Party councillor Peter Lavery said he was of the view the names should not be approved and highlighted his objection to a previous application for part of the development to be named Drumna Walk in an effort to protect local heritage.
“I can remember the naming of Drumna Walk in 2020 and there was some debate at that time as to whether the Drumna name should be kept or we should be using the original townland name, Drumnakelly,” he said.
“As you will maybe recall I was in favour of keeping the Drumnakelly name and I think I made that proposal at the time but it unfortunately it did not go through.
“It is imperative that we keep our named heritage in place and, as discussed at the time, I think Drumnakelly is the most appropriate name for this development to maintain our link with our past.
“Given that, I would be prepared to make a proposal that, rather than the names suggested by the developer, we instead name the streets Drumnakelly Grove, Drumnakelly Close, Drumnakelly Lane and Drumnakelly Mews.”
His proposal was not seconded but Alderman Kenneth Twyble’s proposal to approve the names as recommended by planning officers was seconded by Councillor Sam Nicholson, who said it would be “strange to change the names in the middle of a development”.
With the Chair of the committee, Alderman Gareth Wilson, content to adopt Alderman Twyble’s proposal and move on, Cllr Lavery made it clear he did not agree with the decision and called for a vote.
The Chair said Cllr Lavery’s disagreement had been noted and was on the record and began to tell the chamber he was “content as Chair to…” but at this point, audio and video from the chamber was cut.
When it returned Alderman Wilson said Council’s “legal team have stated I have to have a vote on this for some particular reason which I will abide by but I am not terribly happy about. I think it is a bit of a diversion here…”
Cllr Lavery then interjected to thank the Chair for the vote, request a recorded vote and explain the reason for the vote was “democracy”.
The Chair told Cllr Lavery he did not “appreciate” that remark and called on the Alliance Party councillor to respect the function of the Chair.
“This is not how we run this committee. We always put up our hands and are brought in as I and everyone else does,” he said.
“I get the point you are trying to make and you don’t have to respect me but just respect the Chair, as in the function of the Chair.”
With Alderman Twyble’s proposal put to the floor, eight members of the committee voted in favour of it, Councillor Philip Moutray abstained and Councillor Peter Lavery voted against the proposal.
Those who voted in favour were: Alderman Sydney Anderson, Alderman Glenn Barr, Alderman Kenneth Twyble, Alderman Gareth Wilson, Councillor Paul Duffy, Councillor Declan McAlinden, Councillor Sam Nicholson and Councillor Ian Wilson.
The other members of the planning committee not listed – Councillor Sorcha McGeown, Councillor Darren McNally, Councillor Kevin Savage and Councillor Ciaran Toman – were not present for the vote.