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Application for EU funding for Newry City Park could face controversial last minute amendment

Newry council targeting £7.5m of a new EU cross-border programme could face a controversial last minute amendment to seek funding for a city park.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) has approved an application to the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) this week during its enterprise, regeneration and tourism committee.

However, an urgent motion from Alliance rep David Lee-Surginor to make a bid in the application for funds to complete the Newry City Park, could potentially be debated at this Thursday’s (August 17) strategy, policy and resources (SPR) committee.

Cllr Lee-Surginor said: “Noting the council has failed to deliver on previously agreed motions to submit funding bids for the Newry City Park to the Levelling up and Shared Island Fund, council will now urgently prepare a capital funding bid to the Peace Plus programme for the remainder of funding required to complete all phases of the project.

“And deliver the world class park that was promised to ratepayers, and for full council to approve this motion as deadline for this application is Thursday 7th September 2023 at 5pm.”

The motion by the Downpatrick rep was sent to the SPR committee by NMDDC Sinn Fein chair Valerie Harte during a recent full council meeting.

At the same meeting, a council officer confirmed that an outline business case for the Newry City Park has been agreed by the Department for Communities, with the Department of Finance due to release £16m for Phase One of the major project.

The new Peace Plus funding, is the successor to the previous four EU Peace programmes and is designed to support peace and prosperity across Northern Ireland and the border counties of the South.

A NMDDC officer updating the application process this week, said: “The application to the SEUPB will be submitted in September.

“We should then be in a position to receive a letter of offer by next March.

“Delivered over a three year period (2023-27) the action plan ‘Thriving together’ will be supported by a budget of approx £7.5m.

“Across this period 8,646 participants will be engaged in the delivery of the action plan.

“Due to the delivery gap between the programmes, officers will commence engagement work with the communities and a mapping exercise for each aspect of delivery to ensure when the letter of offer is received there is maximum delivery time.”

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