Jobs could go at centre over loss of contract

Jobs could go at centre over loss of contract

23 November 2011 - by CIARA COLHOUN

TWO jobs may go at Down Business Centre in Downpatrick due to the loss of a major contract.

The local business centre’s umbrella organisation Enterprise Northern Ireland has been unsuccessful in a bid for a £5million project that enables the delivery of the popular Go For It Programme.

The programme has been delivered through the Downpatrick centre for 25 years and offers start-up advice and training for anyone interesting in setting up their own business.

News that the contract has been awarded to a Scottish-based consortium was confirmed at a meeting of the Down Council’s Culture and Economic Development Committee. In a submission presented to councillors at the meeting, Down Business Centre management warned the loss of the contract would likely lead to the loss of two start-up support positions.

It was also revealed that Enterprise NI is legally challenging the decision to award the contract to the other company.

Alliance Party Councillor Patrick Clarke, who sits on the board of directors for Down Business Centre, said he hoped the decision would be reversed and said he was concerned about the long-term impact the loss of the contract would have on the centre.

He said he believed the council should step in to help the centre if the contract is not reinstated.

Councillor John Doris said he feared Downpatrick would no longer be a delivery point for the programme if the contract is lost.

“The company that won the contract proposes its delivery through 11centres, based on the new council areas, and I believe Newry would be the local delivery point,” he said.

“This could mean local people will no longer apply for the business start-up programme because of the amount of travel involved.

“This would be a blow to the area. I believe the new company would need to promise a sub-office in Downpatrick where we have excellent people who are trained to deliver the Go For It programme.”