Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Full steam ahead for Cultra Station Restoration

I am delighted at news plans to restore Cultra Station House have been given the green-light for early May.

I have been leading the campaign to save the well-known local site since 2011 – when the listed building was put up for sale by Ireland’s Bad Bank NAMA. A brighter future is ahead as a result of sustained lobbying and hard work.

Far too often we see historic buildings gradually fall into disrepair, left to whither and fall into ruins until demolished and lost forever due to Health and Safety concerns. Whilst previous plans existed to renovate and convert Cultra Station, but these quickly hit the buffers when the economic crash hit Northern Ireland with Ireland’s Bad Bank NAMA acquiring the property in 2011.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Conlig Reservoirs up for sale

Councillor Muir at Conlig Reservoirs
I am urging Northern Ireland Water to provide more information on the planned sale of Conlig Upper and Lower Reservoirs after discovering that the potential for private sale is actively being explored.

I made contact with NI Water after a local resident approached me with concerns that the Reservoirs could be sold with the much loved open space lost for alternative and potentially unwelcome uses.

In response an NI Water official stated “Within the past few weeks we have had some enquiries regarding the status of the reservoirs, and potential for private sale … NI Water has no plans to sell these reservoirs on the open market.”

I am extremely concerned to learn that NI Water plan to sell these Reservoirs which adjoin major housing areas in Conlig Village and Beechfield. For many years they have open spaces, accessible for all to enjoy, take a stroll or to walk your dog. With a private sale now potentially due to take place behind closed doors an uncertain future beckons for those neighbouring both Reservoirs plus those who enjoy the public spaces.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Muir working to complete Coastal Path upgrade

Whilst work is underway to explore funding to complete upgrade of the North Down Coastal Path, wider plans for a Ards and North Down Greenway have also been announced, linking paths to deliver a Borough wide network.

Councillor Muir at Kinnegar when leading a previous
cycle ride from Holywood to Belfast
I regularly use the North Down Coastal path as a keen runner and was involved in securing upgrade of previous sections along what some describe as North Down’s “Gold Coast” such as the new Boardwalk which replaced the steep steps at Seahill and obtaining 24/7 access between the Kinnegar and Airport Road sectors linking Holywood and Belfast.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Muir expresses Cairn Wood concerns

I have concerns that the assurances recently given concerning the future of Cairn Wood Forest may be hollow after both the Forest Service and the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development have both avoided meeting requests to clarify future plans.

On 26 January we witnessed the Minister for Regional Development step in at the last minute and halt plans to sell Cairn Wood but yet, just over two months later, we are still left in the dark and know nothing more about the possible transfer to the Forest Service.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Ford supports Alliance campaign in Holywood

David Ford at Holywood Library  from left is
Dr Stephen Farry, Councillor Stuart  Anderson,
Larry Thompson, David Ford, Irene Kingston,
Michael Watts and Councillor Andrew Muir
Alliance Leader David Ford has visited Holywood to support the party's local candidates Stephen Farry and Councillor Andrew Muir as they seek to secure two seats for Alliance at the forthcoming Assembly election.

Mr Ford said he was delighted to support the pair while meeting voters in the town.

"Stephen Farry and Andrew Muir are striving to take North Down forward towards a more inclusive future based upon a strong track record of delivery.

"I was extremely encouraged to experience such an unprecedented positive response from the public and local businesses, all of whom are eager to take Northern Ireland forward, faster with Alliance.

"I am confident we will make the breakthrough, electing both Dr Farry and Councillor Muir as strong progressive Alliance MLAs for North Down on 5 May."

Thursday, 31 March 2016

New builds for North Down Schools a step closer

Dr Stephen Farry and Councillor
Andrew Muir at Priory Integrated
College, Holywood
New builds for two local integrated schools have moved a step closer, Alliance representatives have said, as they hailed recognition for integrated education in North Down.

With plans for both Priory Integrated College and Bangor Central Primary School earmarked for further support, under a fresh round of funding announced on Tuesday, Stephen Farry MLA and Councillor Andrew Muir said they hoped the move would see the long-overdue new builds become reality.

Stephen Farry MLA said: "While this doesn't automatically guarantee an immediate new build for Priory and Bangor Central, it is the next step in a long-running campaign to enable both schools to meet the strong demand for integrated education in the area.

"Alliance has been at the forefront of campaigning for new builds for both schools, with pupils and teachers suffering unnecessarily in cramped conditions. I hope this is the start of major changes to education provision locally, putting the integrated sector on a level par with other sectors across North Down."

I added: "With initial funding for Priory's new build announced on March 1, 2006, teachers, pupils and parents have had enough of constantly having their hopes dashed and funding withdrawn.

With the planning process for both Priory and Bangor Central now moving a step closer, I hope this will have a knock-on effect to other local schools in need of new premises. Alliance will continue to champion integrated education, giving every family the opportunity to choose integrated education locally.

As a former Pupil of St Columbanus' College, I will also continue our campaign to deliver the long overdue new building for St Columbanus' College which, as a super mixed and positively inclusive college operating in buildings dating back to 1960, desperately deserves similar funding to facilitate a new building."