Friday 22 March 2019 06:40:24 PM

Exploris Gets Unanimous Backing From Down District Council
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DOWN District Council last night (Monday 14 October) unanimously approved an emergency motion  supporting the work to save the Exploris aquarium in Portaferry threatened with closure by its current owner and operator Ards Borough Council.

The Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry - at the centre of a political row as community support gathers to save it from closure.

The Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry – at the centre of a political row as community support gathers to save it from closure.

The emergency motion was raised to highlight the important role Exploris plays in the tourism, environmental, business and education sectors within the area of Strangford Lough, which is both a tourism destination and also one of the most environmentally important marine areas in Europe.

The motion urged Down District Council to make robust representations without delay to the Chief Executive of Ards Borough Council and the Stormont Executive to show support for Exploris noting the significant detrimental impact the proposed closure would have on the local communities and local businesses, education, environmental and tourism sectors.

It was agreed that Down District Council writes to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board seeking more effort to promote Exploris, and also to write to various government departments asking them to pledge financial support.

A crayfish at Exploris Aqaurium... one of the many exhibits that that the public enjoy.

A crayfish at Exploris Aqaurium… one of the many exhibits that the public enjoy.

Welcoming the political support from Down Council, Caroline  McErlean, owner of the Cuan Licensed Guest House in Strangford, said:  “As a business within Down District we think it is a very positive move to get some joined up thinking across neighbouring councils.

“The interest shown highlights the importance of Exploris to the broader heritage and tourism strategies and to Northern Ireland as a whole”.

The council motion was brought forward by Councillor Gareth Sharvin and seconded by Councillor Colin McGrath.

Ards Councillor Joe Boyle Welcomes Support From Down District Council

Ards Borough Councillor Joe Boyle has welcomed the support from Down District Councillors and in particular his party colleagues Councillor Gareth Sharvin and Councillor Colin Mc Grath for tabling the emergency motion last night calling for Down District Council to lend its support to the work to save the Exploris Aquarium  in Portaferry, which is threatened with closure by its owner and operator Ards Borough Council.

He said: “With already many Councillors supporting the retention of  Exploris within that of our near neighbours and soon to be partners under RPA in North Down and now with unanimous support coming from Down District it does place the spotlight very much on Ards Council as to why in the mouth of the Review of Public Administration, there is a somewhat hurried and hastened approach to rid the borough of such an important tourism, environmental and educational facility located in Portaferry.

“I thank both North Down Councillors and Down District Councillors for their continued support for retaining such an important facility for the future betterment of the entire area, so that in generations to come many will be able to avail of such a wonderful facility and that the local economy can prosper through the tourism product of destination Strangford Lough.

“It is critically important to continue to attract and build upon the thousands of visitors every year to the areas bordering both sides of Strangford Lough that assist with the sustainability of current businesses along with creating new businesses and the employment opportunities that flows from such initiatives.

“To rid the area of a facility such as that of ‘ Exploris ‘ in Portaferry would be the death knell of tourism within all areas bordering Stangford Lough,”  added Councillor Boyle.