Recovery: Antrim and Newtownabbey ‘looked after ratepayers as best we could’
The regeneration of Antrim and Newtownabbey was in the spotlight at the annual meeting of the borough council at Mossley Mill on Tuesday night.
In his opening address, outgoing Mayor Councillor Jim Montgomery said that members have not “waited to see what a post-Covid world looks like”.
Instead, he stated that the council has been meeting with businesses in a bid to attract them to the borough.
“We are an attractive borough to businesses where we are placed and the support they get from the council.”
He noted the expansion of strength and conditioning equipment manufacturer BLK Box to a new facility at Monkstown Industrial Estate in Newtownabbey.
“We have kept services going for the ratepayers as much as possible. We have had facilities open when other councils have not. What really touched me was that the registrar’s office remained open throughout lockdown.
“We have seen that throughout the borough. We have looked after the ratepayers as best we could, far better than other councils. That is something we as a council should recognise and be proud of.”
He paid tribute to outgoing Deputy Mayor Glengormley SDLP Councillor Noreen McClelland whom he praised for “full effort” as a colleague and a friend”.
He praised chief executive Jacqui Dixon whom he said “leads from the front”.
“We have an exemplary professional at the head of our council.”
DUP group leader Glengormley Alderman Phillip Brett said: “When you were chosen as mayor, I do not think you could have imagined a more difficult year.
“You shared in attracting jobs and investment to the borough to ensure young people have a better upbringing. You have done your family and Ulster Unionist Party proud.”
Ulster Unionist group leader Ald Mark Cosgrove said that his colleague’s “leadership shone through diffiicult and unprecedented circumstances bringing investment in through virtual meetings”.
“The tremendous leadership you gave shone. There was no fear or favour given to any group or any party. You were a safe pair of hands.”
New Alliance group leader Cllr Neil Kelly said: “It has been a challenging year for a lot of people. You have met that challenge head on and shown real leadership across the borough. You went round businesses in the borough to show you were there to help and offer support.”
Sinn Fein group leader Cllr Michael Goodman commented: “If there is anything that disappoints me about the past year because of Covid-19, it is unfortunate you have not been able to see as much of Glengormley as I would have liked.
“The range of events you were able to get to was phenomenal.”
SDLP group leader Antrim Cllr Roisin Lynch went on to praise the former first citizen’s move online and his “light-hearted and fun element” during the festive season “at a time that was very difficult”.
However, she noted that “outcomes for the SDLP may not always have been as fruitful as hoped” but acknowledged that they had been “fair-handed”.
Ulster Unionist Ald Fraser Agnew acknowledged the courtesy shown to his family by Cllr Montgomery during the unveiling of a bespoke bench in the Campbell Memorial Garden at Mossley Mill in recognition of Dr Agnew’s long service to the local authority.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
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