Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 17:49 UK

Maze corporation 'will cost 5m'

Maze prison
More than 350,000 has been spent on maintaining buildings

The development corporation which will examine what to do with the former Maze prison will cost up to £5.1m this year.

The corporation will be set up to look at options for the site after the sports minister decided not to build a multi-sports stadium there.

The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister said it had identified "an initial budget requirement."

The figure emerged in response to a question from UUP MLA George Savage.

He was told plans for the redevelopment of the site were at "a very early stage" and projected costs for the next two years were currently being determined.

However, a sum of "up to £5.1m" has been identified to allow the corporation to "drive forward preparatory work" in the current financial year.

Mr Savage called it a "complete waste of tax payers' money" and said that "at a time of financial downturn this disregard for spending will be scrutinised by the public".

"At this stage we are not even aware of how the site will actually be developed," he said.

"Only months ago OFMDFM stated that we were 'back to square one with the masterplan' so to speak and as far as the Ulster Unionist Party is concerned, nothing has been agreed on how the plans should move forward."

Maintenance

Almost half of the projected budget would be spent on "an extensive programme of ground decontamination" across the 347 acre site.

The budget will also include provision for masterplanning and related work, as well as the cost of setting up and staffing the corporation, site security and running costs and the ongoing maintenance of the listed prison buildings and aircraft hangars.

More than £350,000 has been spent maintaining the listed buildings on the site of the former Maze prison over the last four years.

The high-security prison, built to house paramilitary prisoners during the Troubles, was closed in 2000.

We are years behind on this project and had we proceeded with the stadium plan, any corporation's costs would probably not have been so high
Trevor Lunn, Alliance

TUV leader Jim Allister criticised the amount of money that was being spent on the project.

He said: "The emergence that up to £5.1m will be spent on preparatory work on the Maze over the current financial year will appal taxpayers at a time of financial hardship."

Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn, who represents Lagan Valley, said he was angry and extremely frustrated over delays in redeveloping this site and urged the DUP to think again about the Maze stadium idea.

He added: "We are years behind on this project and had we proceeded with the stadium plan, any corporation's costs would probably not have been so high."



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SEE ALSO
Wilson considers Maze delisting
29 Jun 09 |  Northern Ireland
Maintaining Maze costing 500,000
11 May 09 |  Northern Ireland
Review into future of Maze site
08 Apr 09 |  Northern Ireland
Work begins on Maze prison site
30 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
The prison that served its time
27 Jul 00 |  Northern Ireland


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