Circuses are granted permission to roll up on council-owned land

Jordanstown Loughshore Park. Archive pic.
Jordanstown Loughshore Park. Archive pic.

Elected members have voted to allow two circuses featuring animals to use Antrim and Newtownabbey Council-owned land.

At their last full meeting before the local government election, members considered a request from a circus for the use of Lough Shore Park, June 19 - 23.

Cllrs were told this would be a “traditional big top circus with horses, ponies, llamas and dogs”.

Another application was received from a circus for V36 between May 24 and 27. This was detailed as a “magic/acrobatic style circus with dogs”.

A report before the April meeting recommended: “Council previously agreed that each individual application for a circus on council-owned land would be considered on its own merits. As in previous years, a bond of £1,000 per site will be payable by the circus owners in lieu of any damage to the site, in addition to normal booking charges.”

Speaking in the chamber, UUP Cllr Robert Foster: “I am happy to move this recommendation. Having gone to the circus last year at my own expense, I had a thoroughly enjoyable night at it. I took the opportunity to look around the facilities and I was very much impressed with the whole way it was conducted.”

However, Alliance attempted to amend the proposal, which led to a recorded vote on an issue which has previously proved contentious at council.

Cllr Billy Webb told colleagues he would be proposing an amendment that the June event “not be permitted” and that the May one “is permitted”.

His party colleague Neil Kelly said he wished to add a further amendment as both circuses included animals.

The Mayor, Cllr Paul Michael said this could not be done, adding: “I have a proposal on the floor and I need a seconder to that proposal.”

Outgoing DUP Ald Billy DeCourcey said he was happy to second the original proposal.

The Mayor said he needed a seconder for Cllr Webb’s amendment. Cllr Webb then stated that his proposal was that neither circus be permitted. The Mayor said he was being advised that this was not an amendment.

DUP group leader, Cllr Phillip Brett said: “This is a very strongly held view Ald DeCourcey has and one I respect that he holds, but on this occasion I will be supporting the amendment in the name of Cllr Webb, seconded by Cllr Kelly.”

Cllr Michael responded: “This is a direct negative - there is no amendment. I have one proposal on the floor, duly seconded and it’s my intention to put that proposal to the floor, unless there is a further amendment. I have no other proposals on the floor.”

Cllr Webb requested a recorded vote. Cllr Foster’s proposal was passed with 16 elected members voting in favour, 12 against and four abstaining.