Thursday, 3 September 2015

Bangor to become another Movie Destination - The Lost City of Z

I warmly welcome plans to film “The Lost City of Z” at the old Bangor Castle Leisure Centre, with real economic benefits to be derived. The former diving pool will be used on 13 September 2015.

Following filming of the movie “High Rise” at the old Leisure Centre, news that another movie will be filmed at the location is a positive development for Bangor. Yet again North Down will feature on the silver screen with resulting economic benefit derived as a result of increase PR, purchase of local services by visiting film crew and additional money for Council coffers as a result of the hire charge levied.  I look forward to watching the movie when finalised and can’t wait to watch ‘High Rise’ when released later this year on 9 October 2015.

Muir welcomes progress for The Front Development, Holywood

I welcome progress which will hopefully see new retail and apartment development at Hibernia Street, Holywood, known locally as “The Front”.

For far too long the area adjoining the A2 Holywood Bypass has been left an derelict eyesore, portraying a negative image to passing motorists. I am therefore delighted that Council has approved plan to progress this new scheme which will involve new shops, offices, apartments plus provision of new parking spaces in the same quantity as currently available and new Public Conveniences.

With occupancy rates in Holywood Town Centre fast approaching 100% the need for additional retail and office space is becoming acute, in stark contrast to other Town Centres. Progression of this scheme therefore provides opportunity to facilitate further economic growth with additional jobs likely to be created by the new businesses and construction work to be undertaken.

Rather than leaving the current carpark areas to deteriorate this scheme provides template for rejuvenation of the wider area, linking into the second, but smaller, phase of Public Realm works which will refresh and renovate Redburn Square and Hibernia Street.

More details at

Friday, 28 August 2015

New Bangor Central Integrated Primary School buildings a step closer

Alliance representatives have welcomed sale of old Bangor Castle Leisure Centre car park to the Education Authority in order to enable future development and expansion of Bangor Central Integrated Primary School.

Sale of the car park area was considered vital to enable much needed new buildings for the popular Primary School with sale negotiations ongoing since 2011.

Commenting on the development, Councillor Stuart Anderson stated “With Bangor Central Integrated Primary School still operating within out of date buildings and being forced to use mobile classrooms to cater for strong demand, the need for new buildings and a modern teaching environment is of paramount importance. I am therefore delighted to learn that Council have concluded negotiations and sold the car park area of the old Bangor Castle Leisure Centre to the Education Authority. The pressure on primary schools across Bangor to facilitate demand is well known. I trust that the Department of Education will take this opportunity to equip the school in a manner that, at least in part, begins to address this issue.

Urging the Department for Education to now approve the new school buildings, I remarked “Sale of this area removes last barrier to progress and should provide green light for Department for Education to approve long awaited new school buildings. With the school enjoying strong enrolment and an inclusive Integrated Learning Environment I would urge the Minister for Education to evaluate how the school’s request for new buildings can be progressed without any further delay. I have already written to the Minister seeking an update and hope for a positive reply.

The Alliance Party have been strong supporters of Bangor Central Integrated Primary School and Integrated Education generally and will continue our strong support for such over months and years ahead as we seek to deliver a modern first class education system for everyone.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Columbanus 5k sprints to success

A total of eighty eight runners and walkers participated in the Mellons Hyundai Columbanus 5k Run on Friday evening around area previously inhabited by Saint Columbanus before be travelled onwards across Europe. With a range of people participating of different ages and abilities in perfect conditions and over £230 raised in voluntary donations to Friends of Columbanus, Bangor the event was felt to be real success.

I am extremely grateful to everyone who made the run possible including all the volunteers, marshals, Police Service of NI, Bangor Abbey Church who allowed us to use the Parish Halls and Mellons Hyundai for kind sponsorship of the event.

Columbanus 5k winners, from left, Race Organiser Councillor Andrew Muir, Barney Miller (North Down AC) – First Male Junior, Murphy Miller (North Down AC) – First Female, Mayor of Ards and North Down Alderman Alan Graham, Emily Fawthrop – First Female Junior, Jonathan Gibson, First Male.
I hope we have raised the profile of Columbanus and the area he once inhabited in an engaging manner by providing such a unique family friendly fun run which forms a part of the series of events taking place this year to mark 1,400 Anniversary of the death of Saint Columbanus.

The provision of Refreshments, Fresh Fruit and Buns after the run kindly provided by Friends of Columbanus, Bangor volunteers plus presence of our Mayor Alderman Alan Graham was greatly appreciated by many and helped make the run a unique memorable evening. Feedback from runners in relation to the course was positive and provides a possible future template for any future runs in the area which can now be pursued if need exists.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Renewable energy, climate change & DUP

Last week the County Down Spectator carried a front page news story about proposed Solar Farm in North Down along with opposition from DUP MLA. 

Full details about the proposal can be found at Planning Application Reference LA06/2015/0389/F. 

In response I submitted the following letter which appeared in the County Down Spectator today:

I write in relation to recent story in County Down Spectator concerning plan for a Solar Farm in North Down and subsequent objections from a DUP MLA and others.

As many readers will be aware, the world is already starting to experience the effects of Climate Change with developing countries hit the hardest as a result of stronger cyclones, gradually increasing land and sea temperatures plus more unpredictable rains and on-going sea-level rises.

Duty to decrease carbon emissions by exploring cleaner renewable energy sources and reducing our reliance upon fossil fuels is therefore not just a legal obligation but a moral one. Time to show foresight and consideration for future generations and others across the globe is today.

I was therefore disappointed to see a DUP representative leading the campaign against the proposed Solar Farm without recognising the need for such developments nor the detailed plans submitted which propose creation of a woodland to provide a barrier between the Solar Farm and A2 Dual Carriageway plus hedgerows augmented and gapped up with indigenous species around the circumference of the Solar Farm.

Distinct lack of leadership and reactionary response from DUP to object and oppose anything remotely different and new isn’t however surprising nor unexpected when we consider the issue of renewable energy, with DUP providing a warm home to climate change deniers such as Sammy Wilson.

I will be submitting a letter of support for the application submitted and encourage others to do likewise alongside supporting organisations such as Christian Aid who are working to help poor communities to adapt to the growing threat of climate change whilst also advocating for global action towards clean, low-carbon energy sources.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Mellons Hyundai Columbanus 5k Run & Walk launched

From left, Kenneth Irvine (Chairperson, Friends of 
Columbanus, Bangor), Ben Caughers (North Down Athletic Club), 
Ange Perrott (North Down Athletic Club), Alex Irvine (Tourism 
DevelopmentOfficer, Ards and North Down Borough Council),
Andrew Muir (5k Event Organiser), Canon Ronnie Nesbitt 
and Alderman Alan Graham (Mayor of Ards and North Down). 
Two children in front row Zach Irvine and Luke Irvine.
Runners are in training for a special event on Friday 21 August at 7pm at Bangor Abbey organised by the Friends of Columbanus as part of a series of events throughout 2015 marking 1,400 Anniversary of the death of Columbanus who was based in Bangor Abbey before travelling across Europe.

The 5k run and walk will leave Bangor Abbey and tour three laps of Castle Park through scenic Bangor Castle grounds and the site of old Bangor Abbey via a formally measured and marshalled course. Entry is free of charge with voluntary donations to Friends of Columbanus, Bangor encouraged.

The 5k family friendly Run and Walk is open to all regardless of ability or age with optional fancy dress with prizes for best dressed Adult and Child dressed monk.

After recent successful Hadlow 5k Run & Walk in Donaghadee I am looking forward to being involved in delivering another community based event giving athletes, joggers, fun runners and walkers opportunity to enjoy a dander in the outdoors via a formal organised event. Anyone not interested in running or walking can volunteer by contacting me via telephoning 07813 945411 or email We are extremely grateful to Mellons Hyundai for making this event possible via their kind sponsorship which allows us to provide entry free of charge for everyone.

Anyone interested can register on the day from 5pm at Bangor Abbey Parish Halls which will also be location for Refreshments and Buns after the event for runners, walkers and volunteers.

Parking for the event is available at Abbey Street, Bangor car parks, Newtownards Road car park plus the Health Centre off Newtownards Road.