Scepticism over new scaled-down Desertcreat proposals

Desertcreat NI Community Safety Training College Cookstown
Desertcreat NI Community Safety Training College Cookstown

The stalled training college project at Desertcreat, could be about to be revived, under radical new scaled-down plans.

According to a BBC report this week, the site would be home to the NI Fire and Rescue Service with a £44m purpose-built complex.

The site at Desertcreat

The site at Desertcreat

Under the proposals it is understood the PSNI would also be allocated about £20m to refurbish its existing training facilities at Garnerville police station in east Belfast, while the Northern Ireland Prison Service would be given funding for training at Maghaberry and Magilligan prisons as its training centre in Millisle, County Down, has been closed.

However, Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has said that local people are sceptical over new plans for Desertcreat after previous aspirations for the project have come to nothing.

“There’s a huge amount of scepticism locally about the future of the Desertcreat project,” said the assembly man.

“The high aspirations surrounding this site have been dashed time and time again, denying investment and opportunity for Cookstown and surrounding areas.

The high aspirations surrounding this site have been dashed time and time again, denying investment and opportunity for Cookstown and surrounding areas

Patsy McGlone

“If the current proposals are to be relied upon, there won’t even be an accommodation block attached to the site meaning that any economic benefit will purely be at construction stage. Even then we have no guarantee that local firms will see the benefit of that.

“People here have had too many false dawns on this project and are right to treat new proposals with scepticism. It’s time we see some action to deliver on the promise of this site.”

Last week, the Mid Ulster Mail reported that a business case aimed at pushing the NI Community Safety College project forward will be heard by ministers by the end of November, according to the Department of Justice.

SDLP MLA for Mid-Ulster Patsy McGlone

SDLP MLA for Mid-Ulster Patsy McGlone