Carrick newest councillor is assuring rate-payers their interests will be protected when the authority merges with Larne and Ballymena in 2015.
Councillor Fred Cobain believes the Mid and East Antrim Council will be an opportunity to take forward projects a smaller council would be unable to.
In an interview with the Carrick Times one month after he took his DUP seat in the Antrim Street chamber, Mr Cobain said: “I think all of these things are a challenge but they are also opportunities. You are going to a bigger council with a bigger financial base and the chance to do something Carrick couldn’t do on their own.”
An example of this, he added, would be further development of the town’s heritage potential.
“It’s a huge historical town and it really needs to be exploited more from a tourist point of view. This new council probably will have the financial base to get it done.
“It’s not about Carrick, not about Larne, not about Ballymena. This is a brand new council. You need to forget about the parochialism. It is a chance to do something radical.”
Mr Cobain brings a wealth of experience to the role having served both on Belfast City Council, including as Lord Mayor in 1990-91 and Stormont as an MLA for North Belfast. He switched from the UUP at the beginning of last year having become “disillusioned” with the party.
“It wasn’t the party I joined 30 years ago. I think they just ran out of ideas. I think they became very inward looking.”
Looking to the future, Mr Cobain, a father of two, is relishing the fresh opportunity. “The issues are the same all over, health, education, housing and all that. Council has to be at the centre of community life and working with central government, working with departments.” And he would like to see more people sharing that enthusiasm, particularly those who may feel disconnected from the electoral process, which was one of the suggested reasons for some of the unrest at the height of the Union flag protest.
“I think one of the greatest gifts people have is voting. This is a great democracy where you can actually change things if you want to. People should always vote. If they have particular issues the way to get these issues on the agenda is through voting.”
He added: “Education is a big interest for me. I think if you go into a lot of working class areas, from an educational point of view, a lot of money, time and effort has to be spent.”