A former Mayor of Lisburn says he believes The Secret Garden cafe run by Praxis could be accommodated in an alternative site in Hillsborough.
Speaking at Tuesday’s full meeting of Lisburn City Council Alderman William Leathem said he feels there is “room for some compromise” and for Praxis to “possibly be accommodated within Hillsborough”.
Mr Leathem welcomed the Council’s support for his proposal for “a way forward” that could see the Council host a meeting, chaired by the Mayor, with an invitation extended to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency; Historic Royal Palaces, Praxis and Jeffrey Donaldson MP - who he described as being an “advocate of the vital work carried out by Praxis”.
This meeting will take place subject to all parties agreeing to attend. The Council will also write to the Northern Ireland Office on the matter.
The Secret Garden cafe is currently based at Hillsborough Castle and the estate is now controlled by Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) which will mean changes to the estate’s management. One of the changes, is that Praxis Care has been asked to move out of its current site in the Walled Garden within the Castle grounds.
Mr Leathem explained: “The Council wrote to the Secretary of State the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP with regard to this decision and whilst the Council warmly welcomes the Historic Royal Palaces’ status for Hillsborough Castle, and understands that work is ongoing with Praxis, we remain disappointed that this charity is now faced with the position of having to leave the home it has known for many years.”
He continued: “Given the importance of the service provided in the community by Praxis I feel this issue is too important to leave as it currently sits and I would wish to try to help bring about a solution to this problem. I have experience of working with people with a disability or learning disability when I was Mayor as this was my Mayoral Charity focus and I am acutely aware of how valuable the support that Praxis offers is to many people,”
Councillor Roy Young seconded the proposal and said: “I commend Alderman Leathem for bringing it forward. I look forward to hearing further details about the arrangements for a meeting, the attempt to find a solution and for this worthy charity to continue its important work.”