A Craigavon councillor has expressed her disappointment at claims Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s inability to recruit staff is the reason its civic centre is not used for civic events.
Speaking at a meeting of Council’s governance, resources and strategy committee, Councillor Margaret Tinsley noted ABC’s senior sports awards event was held at a local hotel and asked why Council’s civic headquarters is not being used for such events.
“I was at the senior sports awards and whilst I was sitting at the table with representatives from the sports forum and others, they actually raised their disappointment with me as to why the event was not being held in the civic centre,” said Cllr Tinsley.
“Those round the table said that in their experience the food, service and every attention to detail from all of the staff is excellent.
“The first port of call they went to was our civic centre and they want to know what happened and why they can no longer use it.
“I did a little bit of investigating and it turns out it is because we can’t get staff. That is disappointing and has left me wondering if we can’t get staff for that one event, how many more events are we, within that civic building, not able to cater for?”
She continued: “I think that is something we need to be really looking at. Is it a matter that we did not advertised for staff well enough in advance? Or is that we don’t have a list of casual workers?
“I know we used to practically have a list of every young person in the borough, we did not have a problem with that. It is not maybe one to be answered tonight but it is something we need to be looking at, we are losing a lot of revenue because of this.
“I would like to know how many events we have turned away due to lack of staffing? How many have we turned away because we simply cannot cater for them.”
The committee’s chair, Alderman Stephen Moutray said Cllr Tinsley made a “very valid point” and noted he had raised a similar question at November’s monthly meeting of Council where he called on officers to ensure the building is used more often.
“I raised the question in November about the usage of the building and I think it is important officers go away and come back and tell us how many people have been turned away,” said Cllr Moutray.
“We should be showcasing this building for an event like that and that is no reference to the excellent work our local hotels do but this is the civic headquarters and I think we need to ensure members are updated as to why it is not being used.”
Council’s deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Tim McClelland said he was “shocked at this state of affairs” and seconded Cllr Tinsley’s proposal for officers to explain why this is the case.
“I am shocked at the state of affairs that has arisen that means we can’t hold major events like this,” said the Lagan River councillor.
“In 2019 we held the junior sports awards in the Mayes Hall, with an absolutely full crowd. My question is, what has changed? Who has lost the focus and what has happened?
“I would totally agree we should be showcasing this building and I know in the course of my duties I have people in here virtually every week. They think it is a fantastic building, we are really missing an opportunity here.
“We hear much of the revenue position of this organisation and then we hear this scenario? It is just not good enough and if Cllr Tinsley is making that a proposal I am more than willing to second it.”
Bringing the discussion to a close the committee chair, Alderman Moutray confirmed the proposal for further information in relation to this matter to be brought back to members had been proposed and seconded and the committee voiced its approval.