Alliance South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw has hit out at an upgrade project at Windsor Park, saying that failure to deliver community benefits “does not bode well” for planned work at other sports grounds in the city.
The facility, Northern Ireland’s national football stadium, underwent an upgrade at a cost of £35m (€41.1m/$43.8m), with developers pledging to deliver a series of benefits to the local community.
However, Bradshaw has said such benefits are “nothing like as wide-ranging as expected” and this could have an impact on plans to also upgrade the Casement Park Gaelic Athletic Association stadium also in the city.
“Out of a £35 million contract, the local people have only directly benefited from a hanging baskets and vegetable patch educational event,” Bradshaw said, according to The Irish News newspaper.
“Given the objections from residents close to Casement Park around the project there, this does not bode well for the future.
“The stadium upgrade itself has been a tremendous success, but local people have been left bewildered by the lack of evident local community benefit now arising from it. There have been some benefits to local, short-term employment, but these have been nothing like as wide-ranging as expected.”
Bradshaw added: “If the Casement Park upgrade is to succeed, a re-assessment is needed to ensure the community benefit arising from it applies locally and on a cross-community basis, including areas which should have gained from the Windsor Park development.”