‘No question of council reducing land valuation’

Councillor Billy Webb topped the local council's paylist for the year 2011/12, during which period he held the Mayoral office.
Councillor Billy Webb topped the local council's paylist for the year 2011/12, during which period he held the Mayoral office.
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COUNCILLOR Billy Webb has moved to correct claims made in the council chamber about the sale of land to the Northern Ireland Hospice.

At the July 30 council meeting, Alderman Billy DeCourcy said the council had sold its land to the Hospice for the Horizon House project for “next to nothing”.

He made the claim while councillors discussed the possible placement of a cemetery in the Valley Park, beside the headquarters of the Hospice on the O’Neill Road.

Alderman DeCourcy believed that councillors were being portrayed as “hard-hearted” when they had in fact been generous to the Hospice in the past.

However, Councillor Billy Webb, who is a trustee for the Hospice, has said the claims made in the council chamber were “wrong”.

Speaking at Monday night’s council meeting (August 13), he said: “The claim that the council gave the Hospice the land for next to nothing is wrong.

“The Valuation & Lands Agency (VLA) valued the land now used by the Hospice, on the understanding that it could only be used as a Children’s Hospice, at £50,000, and this is what the Hospice paid to the council.

“There was no question of the council reducing the VLA valuation because it was for the Hospice.”

Alderman Paul Girvan added: “The point may be that had the land been sold for another type of development, the council could have got a lot more for it.

“But there were very tight planning restrictions in place about the use of the site.”

Alderman Billy DeCourcy added: “I meant no harm with what I said. My point was that we were being portrayed as hard-hearted so-and-sos in the media and I felt that was wrong.”