Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors have clashed once again over the thorny issue of permitting circuses with animal acts to use council land.
A motion put forward last month by Councillor Phillip Brett to ban circuses with wild animals from council owned property was defeated, but the DUP man remained undeterred in getting the issue tabled once again - this time to rescind that decision.
Supported by 17 fellow councillors in bringing his proposal before council on Thursday night (March 26), Cllr Brett said that by rescinding the motion, it would mean circuses would have to apply and a decision subsequently taken by council on a case by case basis with information presented on each application.
While his proposal was seconded by party colleague Councillor Thomas Hogg, he received criticism from several councillors for revisiting the issue.
The UUP’s Mark Cosgrove said was “disappointed” it was back on the agenda, given that the original motion came before the full 40 members of council, with a good natured debate and a “democratic decision”.
He said rescinding the decision meant the council was back to square one.
The most scathing criticism came from Cllr Brett’s own DUP colleague William DeCourcy.
Alderman DeCourcy said: “This is no way to run a council.
“Month by month, decisions are made - are we going to wait to the next meeting and someone not turning up to try and change that decision.”
The TUV’s David Hollis said that it was all very good taking it on a case by case basis but asked: “Where are we going to get the information from.”
Alliance Councillor Neil Kelly said his position on the matter was very clear and that was to ban circuses with animals and said he supported rescinding the motion.
The UUP’s John Scott asked where council drew the line.
“Where do we stop, are we going to ban horse racing?” Cllr Scott said.
He added: “Horses are carried about in small horse boxes but they don’t have a ban.”
Cllr Brett’s motion to rescind the decision was carried with 20 in favour, and 13 against.
SDLP Councillor Brian Duffin abstained form the vote.