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Frustration aired towards Trust over failure to deliver new build for day care facility

Oakridge Social Education Centre

A Dungannon councillor has expressed frustration over the Southern Trust’s perceived lack of action over delivering a new build for a day care facility in the town.

Speaking at a Mid Ulster District Council meeting on January 25, Councillor Barry Monteith (Dungannon DEA) pointed out that Oakridge Social Education Centre – a day-care facility for adults with learning disabilities in Dungannon – has been waiting for a new build for many years.

He was speaking after representatives from the Trust delivered a presentation to Council.

He commented: “It is fairly depressing to hear every year when Trusts [present] their report, because we don’t seem to get any further and we seem to fall further and further behind.

“I’ve said it before, this area is most certainly the runt of the litter when it comes to the Southern Trust.

“The fixation with centralisation of services around Craigavon and Newry continues, and I’ve heard nothing tonight which makes me think that this is going to be overturned.

“Oakridge [Day Centre] has been a priority for years. I would hate to see if you want a priority how long you would wait for to get some of this stuff done.

“We are not going to see some of this stuff in our lifetime, because that wait has been going on for 30 to 35 years in relation to a new build.

“I can remember it been talked about long before I was a councillor, and presentations being made by the users of Oakridge, many of whom now have passed on, and many of whom now are actually of an age where they won’t be allowed to use the facilities because they’re over 65.

“There was a meeting – I’m not sure when it was – up in South Tyrone in relation to the potential for a partnership with the council in the development of the land around Oakridge and Sperrinview [Special School], and the plans we might have for creating a new urban park around Drumcoo [Playing Fields].

“That meeting I thought was very positive, but then radio silence fell, so could I propose that the meeting is resurrected and we try and put a bit of life back into that proposal?

“It is the opportunity to do something very unique that no one else has, but we have to be met halfway here. It often feels we’re not even getting met a quarter of the way.”

Council chairman, Councillor Dominic Molloy (Sinn Féin, Dungannon DEA) seconded the proposal, adding: “I think it was at least two-and-a-half to three years since that meeting was.”

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