THE Chief Executive of Mayo County Council has stated that negotiations with a group regarding the former Volex building in Castlebar are at a sensitive stage.
The premises was sold by Mayo County Council to Opensparkz, which planned to establish a Global Sustainability Centre at the former Volex plant as part of their Global Sustainability Initiative (GSI). Three companies agreed in 2016 to set up operations at the plant, with plans to create 200 jobs for the county town.
However, earlier this month it was reported that the project had fallen through, and Chief Executive Peter Hynes confirmed to councillors that Mayo County Council ‘is both in possession of and in control of the Volex building’.
Independent councillor Gerry Ginty described the original project as a ‘fairytale’ and said the people wanted transparency on what was going on.
At last week’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, Mr Hynes confirmed that the council is in discussions with a group that was involved in the original project, but he would not go into details.
“A deposit was paid, but I am not going to mention the number because there are ongoing discussions with the group … and [they are] at a very sensitive stage,” he said.
He went on to say that ‘commercial sensitivities’ and that projects and deals ‘take time to put together’. “We are at that stage, and as soon as we are in a position to confirm all the details we will do that,” he said.
When pressed by Cllr Michael Kilcoyne on a timeframe for this, he said he hoped an arrangement could be brought before the council in January or February.
Fine Gael councillor Jarlath Munnelly said the building was bought for a particular project, and he suggested that if that project was not proceeding, the council should put it on the open market.
Mr Hynes said he did not want to continue to discuss the project and claimed ‘putting preconditions on it will be extremely unhelpful’. However, he said that the building remained a valuable asset.
“The building was bought with the express intent of attracting investment and jobs into the capital town of the county. It is an enormous asset, which is appreciating, so there is no [need for] worry that investment is going down the swanny.”