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Leisure Centres

Volume 894: debated on Thursday 26 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what factors were taken into consideration in deciding the locations of the leisure centres to be built in Belfast.

I understand that the factors taken into consideration were the optimum geographical spread and use of the recreational facilities involved.

I thank the Minister for the interest he has taken in leisure centres in Northern Ireland. Does he not agree, however, that the Ballysillian Leisure Centre in North Belfast should have priority, because there are more interface areas here-13—than anywhere else in Northern Ireland? Will he also agree that, as the centre is completely surrounded by 32 Catholic and Protestant schools and 12,000 children, it provides a perfect opportunity for the Government to come back against terrorism and violence, and that the North Belfast Ballysillian Leisure Centre should get priority, so that a start may be made as soon as possible to try to bring together the people of the two communities in a peaceful way?

As the grant-aid authority, the Department of Education and myself would have a long-stop function in this, and I would hope to be guided primarily by the views of the Belfast City Council.

Will the Minister of State and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland set up a committee to advise on the location of leisure centres in Northern Ireland, taking into account the needs of development areas such as North Down—it is not a matter affecting North Belfast alone—where existing needs are not being met and where present plans envisage the doubling of the population of my constituency within a relatively short time?

As a rule of thumb it seems to me that these leisure centres cost about £1 million apiece, and apart from the ones at present under discussion I can see no possibility at all of the programme being extended. The question is whether those up for consideration now will all be approved.