Thursday, 7 September 2017

Muir secures Council support to get unstuck from gum

Hako Street Cleaning Machine purchased to
sweep and wash pavements but cannot
remove the chewing gum
I have secured the unanimous support of Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Environment Committee for his request that officers explore options and costs associated with a scheduled programme of gum removal from our new Public Realm pavements.

Whilst I welcome the investment of £70,000 in the new Hako street cleaning machine to sweep and wash our new Public Realm Pavements we urgently need a proper schedule of cleaning to remove the chewing gum that has appeared on the new pavements. We cannot be left to rely upon ad-hoc manual removal which is both time consuming, irregular and unreliable in terms of results.

After making such a significant investment in new Public Realm pavements it’s vital the Council gets unstuck from the current situation and finds ways to end the scourge of gum. I am therefore delighted that Councillors backed my motion and await the officers report on ways to address the matter.

Motion passed by Environment Committee on 6 September 2017: “That this Council requests that officers bring back a report on the options and associated costs associated with a scheduled programme of gum removal from new Public Realm pavements in relevant Towns across our Borough”. This is subject to ratification by Full Council on 27 September 2017.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Cultra Station renovations the rail thing, says Muir

Cultra Railway Station is on the express track back to life after significant renovations were unveiled for the first time last weekIt is 'fantastic' to see the much-loved location restored to its former glory. 

Photos of the newly restored Cultra Station House and associated properties look pretty amazing, bringing a once derelict building back to its former glory alongside a number of new high quality finish buildings on the adjoining site. It’s fantastic to see the  Station House ready for people to call home. I wish the eventual new home owners every success as they set out on what seems certain to be a express non-stop journey of railway nostalgia in modern surroundings


Since 2011, my colleague, former Councillor and now Chair of Holywood Conservation Group Larry Thompson, and I have worked hard to ensure rapidly deteriorating Cultra Station House didn't hit the buffers and was instead on the fast track to a full revival after being seized by NAMA. 


Cllr Andrew Muir and Mr Larry Thompson RIBA

Far too often we see historic buildings fall into a state of disrepair, but rather than let that happen to Cultra Station House, Alliance has consistently fought to see the arrival of a functioning site. That's now fully ready and promoting a positive sense of community spirit after many local people and organisations boarded the campaign, from Holywood Conservation Group to Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, a previous Environment Minister and even a Irish TD.

This is a success story. Cultra Station House has overcome health and safety concerns, the economic crash of 2011 and many other disappointments, to offer local people a truly wonderful place to live. I'm very proud to have been involved in this project from the start and would encourage everyone to look at what has been achieved.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Muir welcomes Greenway funding announcement

With Donaghadee to Newtownards Greenway
campaigner Louis O'Keefe
I welcome the recent announcement from Department for Infrastructure concerning funding for new Greenway from Comber to Newtownards.

As a passionate advocate for the Greenway plans for many years whilst also a keen runner and cyclist I feel that provision of Greenway routes have real potential to benefit residents and visitors alike providing sustainable transport solutions whilst also enabling us to lead more healthy lifestyles. The Comber Greenway and others across the British Isles are good examples of such whilst also helping boost the trade of local businesses.


Cycling along the North Down Coastal Path

I am therefore delighted to learn that Department for Infrastructure have agreed to provide funds to bring plans for Comber to Newtownards Greenway to the next stage, providing a safe and convenient route to Belfast from Newtownards via the already popular Comber Greenway.
Whilst slightly disappointed that no funding has been allocated for the wider Ards and North Down Greenway running from Holywood to Bangor, Donaghadee, Newtownards and then to Comber plus upgrade of the Clandeboye Way I am confident of commitment of officers to this scheme and potential of other funders plus further tranches of funding from DfI to make these great plans a reality.

DfI Announcement at https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/news/ps75000-investment-new-greenways-announced


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Muir welcomes plans for historic Holywood Building

I welcome plans recently submitted by Lacuna Developments to save the historic building at 1 Stewart’s Place in Holywood after campaigning the save the building for the last number of years particularly from July last year when the building partially collapsed causing closure of nearby busy Bangor Road.

Following the partial collapse in July last year I had great fears Holywood was again on the verge of losing a real jewel in our built heritage crown but following relentless efforts I am delighted to see plans submitted which will see the building restored to it's original glory.

New development planned
 Working alongside Holywood Conservation Group a brighter future has been secured for the building which rightly drew much ire from Holywood traders and residents alike as a result of the traffic chaos the road closure caused.

Through dogged determination to get the road re-opened and a real passion for saving our built heritage I am delighted to have played a part in saving this listed building and commend Lacuna Developments for the courage shown in taking on this building and pursuing plans which will hopefully turn this site into another great Holywood landmark. I look forward to working with the new developer and seeing this project through to completion.

Listed in the 1970s, the building is the other part of the ‘Stewart’s Place pair’ and forms part of the Holywood Conservation Area, but unfortunately the property has been on the Built Heritage at Risk Northern Ireland Register for a number of years. It’s other half, No 3 Stewart’s Place was restored by Hearth Housing Association in 1993.

Stewart’s Place is thought to have been built around 1840 by William Lowry, with numbers one and three forming a pair of three-storey stucco houses with rounded corners and were named after the first post-master of Holywood Hugh Stewart

Story at http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/historic-northern-ireland-pub-to-become-luxury-flats-in-2m-scheme-35871368.html 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The time for journeys has long since passed

The following letter appeared in the County Down Spectator on Thursday 22 June 2017

I write in relation to the recent erection of flags for illegal terrorist organisations such as UDA, UFF, UVF and Red Hand Commandos. Erected with seeming ease across North Down the flags now fly from lampposts across as our Borough providing a blatant challenge to the Rule of Law.

Like the overwhelming majority of law abiding citizens across North Down I am fed up seeing paramilitary  flags, insignia and murals erected and want them gone, for good along with all paramilitary organisations of whatever shade.

Over 22 years after the ceasefires these proscribed paramilitary organisations plus their Republican counterparts should have long since gone away but rather than packing up and standing down they have chosen to yet again mark out territory and remind us of their menacing presence with apparent impunity.

At times like this it incumbent for all in political life to speak about against this activity and call for the immediate removal of such, whether by those who erected the flags or by statutory agencies, with the support of the Police.

Thus far the DUP locally have been silent on the matter. Not one elected representative has called for removal despite repeated calls. I would therefore urge the DUP locally to break their silence on the matter and join me as an important first step in calling for the immediate removal of all paramilitary flags without equivocation or the usual reference concerning the need to give these organisations space to complete their journey. The time for journeys has long since passed. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Muir thanks Alliance voters for support at General Election

Team Alliance at Election Count
Whilst concerned to see the further polarisation of politics I was delighted to see Alliance Party vote locally in North Down increase both in percentage terms and votes cast, compared to the last Westminster General Election.

The continued support from everyone who placed their trust in me and voted Alliance is greatly appreciated as we continue to strive for reconciliation in a shared, inclusive, open, welcoming society.

I would also like to congratulate Lady Sylvia Hermon upon her re-election as MP for North Down and wish her well as she works in the new Parliament as the only MP from Northern Ireland not aligned to the government and taking her seat whilst UK faces extremely challenging decisions ahead in relation to Brexit and other matters.


Congratulating Lady Sylvia Hermon upon
re-election as MP
My passion for positive, progressive and pro-European politics remains alongside Alliance desire for urgent restoration of devolved Assembly. We hope other parties join us in getting the devolved institutions up and running again without delay. Northern Ireland deserves better than current stalemate and party political bickering.