September 14, 2023
Unionist rejection of funding grant for businesses in Ards and North Down irrational, says McRandal
Alliance Ards and North Down Councillor Martin McRandal has said the voting down of a £55,000 funding grant from the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, aimed at supporting Councils in building capacity for ensuring consumer safety standards, is short-sighted and irrational.
Ards and North Down Council Martin McRandal
The grant programme is intended to help support businesses fulfil their statutory duty in meeting product safety obligations, and help develop robust market surveillance right across the UK to ensure better protection for consumers.
The motion to accept the funding grant was rejected last night (13 September) at Ards and North Down Borough Council, after being voted down by the DUP, UUP, and two independent unionists.
It is thought that the cost will now fall upon the Council itself to source.
Cllr McRandal has said: “We have been over this issue in detail before, even within the past few months, and the decision taken here at this junction is beggar’s belief. We obtained legal advice that makes it clear that Council has a statutory duty to undertake these functions.
“The committee was asked simply to consider whether or not to apply for grant funding of £55,000, offered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in order to assist Council in carrying out these statutory duties. I'm not sure what the views of the DUP and UUP councillors on the committee are, as none of them actually spoke during the debate.
“However, they did support a proposal made and seconded by independent unionist councillors to not apply for the funding. As a result, Council will still have to carry out its statutory duties, on risk of possible legal action from not providing services, but will have to itself shoulder the financial cost of meeting this shortfall. It’s unnecessary and incredibly short-sighted.
“When this comes before Council again later this month, Alliance intend to bring the obvious, sensible proposal forward that we overturn the decision reached at committee and instead apply for the grant funding.
“I hope that the leadership of the DUP and UUP Council groups will take a more rational view, consider the best interests of their constituents and local businesses, and support us on that occasion."
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