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Butler raises concerns on PLACE closure

Ulster Unionist Communities Spokesperson Robbie Butler MLA has called on the Department for Communities to intervene after it was revealed that the charity Planning Landscape Architecture Community Environment (PLACE) is set to close, after the Arts Council decided to cease its funding.

Robbie Butler said:

“I fully appreciate that there are major pressures on public finances across Northern Ireland, but with an annual block grant of over 11 billion pounds I struggle to understand how it is not possible to find just £86,000 to keep organisations as important as PLACE open.

“I am also concerned that the National Lottery – with its enormous annual income – has also chosen this time to reduce funding to the Arts Council, especially when it no doubt is fully aware of the major squeeze on the Council's other public sources of funding.

“The Northern Ireland Office railroaded this year’s budget through Parliament with zero scrutiny and as yet I am still to see any of the detailed spending plans for the local Departments. That detail urgently needs to be made available.

“In the meantime I would urge the Department for Communities to intervene on this particular case, as once an office is closed and staff are let go, it’s incredibly difficult to ever fully reinstate that service.”

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