Belfast Harbour Up For Sale…

After some skirting around the issue consideration, and after having the idea of selling slammed as ‘shortsighted’ by the head of the Northern Ireland Science Park, it now appears today that Belfast Harbour Estate will be sold for £500m. The money will go to the Executive, presumably to fund the cut to NI’s corporation tax.

You may remember yesterday I was having a bit of a rant about Belfast City Council’s decision to spend £105m on refurbishing / redeveloping leisure centres across the city, even though they have already handed the leisure centres over to private operator GLL to run and there is every sign that this will involve price hikes for leisure centre users. Similar plans may be afoot at the Waterfront Hall, which is being redeveloped at a cost of £30m but which Belfast City Council is also considering “Outsourcing to an established private sector operator“.

Then this morning BBC NI were reporting on Belfast City Council’s inability to confirm any major international events in the city for the 2016-2021 period, due to a lack of financing to the tune of apprx £2.66m. So is that it, everything is just cancelled then? Apparently not, since BCC are considering the option of “using rates to meet the funding requirements, stating that committee members may “need to consider such funding as part of the rate-setting process”.”

Waterfront extension, Leisure Centre refurb and ambitious international events calendar left you broke? Help yourself to the rates money, sure! Looking to plug that £500m in the budget left by the proposed cut to the NI corporation tax? Sell the Belfast Harbour Estate!

If Dr Apsley’s summation “To sell a profitable asset and one which is so critical for the Northern Ireland economy for what cannot be more than two years of the cost of corporation tax sounds a bit short-sighted” doesn’t convince you perhaps consider if we, the people, or at least our elected representatives auction Belfast Harbour off, we have no say in who is running it, what type of cargo is passing through it, and how it is all monitored.