Spend in haste, repent at leisure centre…

NOT to get on Caitriona’s case too much, but does no-one in the Education Department see that there could be a connection between cuts here and consequences here – if not immediately, then further down the line? It may be belt-tightening time, but could funding after-schools clubs perhaps save the taxpayer money in the long term? And speaking of cuts, the penny may finally be dropping in Belfast City Council that it simply cannot continue to pour our rates into duplicating hideously expensive facilities across peace walls. “We have to move away from the if there is one in a unionist area, there has to be another in a nationalist area and vice versa,” said UUP councillor Bob Stoker in a city where the Shankill leisure centre is just a stone’s throw away (or a half-brick’s throw if it’s the summer) from the Falls one. Would it not be more sensible economically and financially to try and have one integrated unit, or is that still years off? Can we afford the expensive luxury of such bitter tribalism forever? After all, there is simply no need for 11 leisure centres in the size of a relatively piddly little city like Belfast. It might seem contrary to argue for continued funding for after-school clubs and cuts to leisure centres, but the latter facilities have cost £41m in five years. And that probably ain’t sustainable.