‘Millions could be saved on DARD move’

Jo-Anne Dobson

Jo-Anne Dobson

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Ulster Unionist Agriculture Spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson has called on the Minister of Agriculture to suspend the planned DARD relocation to Ballykelly in order to explore the feasibility of the Department using the empty DVA offices in Coleraine.

The Upper Bann MLA has now formally called on the Minister to cease any further work on the project until it can be revised.

Mrs Dobson said: “The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is about to spend at least £41m on moving its headquarters from East Belfast to Ballykelly. That is despite the fact that a full business case has never been produced and a range of senior officials across a number of Government Departments warning that the move does not represent value for money.

“The decision is being pushed ahead solely for political reasons by the Minister and her Party. It’s an abuse of taxpayers money, unfair to the hundreds of existing DARD staff who are being treated shamefully and demonstrates a total indifference to where her real priorities should lie right now.

“When the Driver and Vehicle Agency announced its withdrawal from Coleraine, it had a devastating impact on the town however it did mean there was significant office accommodation left behind. I believe these buildings could now be utilised as the base for the DARD headquarters.”