A motion to rule out the Valley Park as a possible site for a new “super cemetery” has been rejected by Newtownabbey councillors.
At May’s Development Committee meeting, councillors recommended progressing plans to examine the possibility of opening a new cemetery at several locations, including private lands and ground within the confines of the Valley Park.
Last year councillors stalled moves to build a cemetery in the park after a huge public outcry over the proposal.
The council then advertised for landowners to provide alternative locations for a new facility, which is required to address the dwindling amount of space in Carnmoney Cemetery.
At the May 14 committee meeting a nine site shortlist was presented to members which included sites within the Valley Park.
A motion to dismiss lands in the park was rejected in a recorded vote. Three members - John Blair, Tom Campbell and Thomas Hogg - supported the motion, while the two Sinn Fein representatives abstained from the vote.
Those that voted against the amendment included Fraser Agnew, Billy Ball, Billy DeCourcy, Paul Girvan, Audrey Ball, Pamela Barr, Lynn Frazer, Jackie Mann, Noreen McClelland, Pat McCudden and Ken Robinson.
Following the meeting, Alderman Blair told the Times: “I remain absolutely opposed to even investigating the possibility of turning any part of the park into a cemetery.
“I have said, since this process began, that removing much valued open space to create a super cemetery at the entrance to Newtownabbey from Belfast would have a negative impact on the borough and its residents.
“Given the timescale involved, with no hope left now of completing a new cemetery before Newtownabbey Council merges with Antrim in 2014, we should wait to consider this provision along with our new partners in local government.” The Alliance representative added: “I am a little heartened by the fact that the proposal to continue investigations at the Valley Park received less support when last considered than it had previously.
“I remain hopeful that councillors will be mindful of the massive opposition already expressed to such development at Valley Park and ultimately reverse this controversial and illogical idea.”
Meanwhile, the council has progressed plans to build a crematorium in the borough, either with Belfast City Council or in collaboration with the private sector.