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Ratepayers expected to foot bill for heating facility at North-South Ministerial Council

Armagh’s ratepayers seem likely to be left to foot the £25,000 cost of a ‘biomass hopper and enclosure’ for the heating system at the North-South Ministerial Council’s headquarters.

Armagh City and District Council has agreed to ask the NSMC for a contribution.

But the local authority has already resigned itself to the fact that any sort of donation to the cost seems highly unlikely.

Carol Corvan, the council’s Strategic Director of Corporate Services and Governance, recently took councillors through a report and explained that officers had checked the implications if installation of the hopper and enclosure did not proceed.

It would mean that a member of staff would have to go in every day and service the system and there were some health and safety issues in relation to this.

She explained that another option would be to ask NSMC to contribute to the cost, but she felt it was unlikely that they would be willing to.

She added that council had allowed £25,000 in the budget for this project.

SF Councillor Mary Doyle suggested proceeding to ask NSMC for a contribution and was told that NSMC had already cut back on cleaning and maintenance budgets so it was doubtful they would be in a position to fund this.

Councillor Doyle then asked if it would be possible to apply for grant funding but was informed this was not an option either.

Clerk and Chief Executive John Briggs enquired if insurers could help with the cost, but he too was told that, unfortunately, this would not be possible.

Ms Corvan added that, in severe weather, NSMC only heating system was the biomass, whereas in other places, such as the Palace, there was oil heating as a back-up.

It was therefore important that this was maintained and run efficiently.

On the recommendation of SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon it was recommended that officers approach NSMC with a view to making a contribution.

Picture: Google Street View

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