Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Mayoral praise for Bangor Central Integrated Primary School

I welcomed Teachers and Staff from Bangor Central Integrated Primary School to Bangor Castle Town Hall on Wednesday 9 April 2014 to praise the work undertaken at the school.

Principal Peter Campbell led the delegation who enjoyed a historic tour of the building and a strong speech in support of the school and Integrated Education by Mayor Muir.

As someone passionately committed to enabling young people to develop in an inclusive environment, learning, playing and growing up together I am delighted to see Bangor Central Integrated Primary School sustain such a strong enrolment.

I enjoyed providing a practical demonstration of my support for the school by providing a formal Mayoral reception and hope Council will soon be able to finally resolve issues with South Eastern Education and Library Board to facilitate redevelopment of the school site. By strengthening the school estate we can together ensure that children attending Bangor Central Integrated Primary School enjoy the highest quality learning environment.

Muir says Kinnegar Sewage works are long overdue

I have questioned NI Water after the company admitted it had fallen behind schedule in planned improvement works for the Kinnegar area.

A contractor was due to be appointed in November last year in an attempt to end on-going sewage problems for good, with Lagoon Remediation taking place shortly after.

But in correspondence with me, NI Water has now admitted the work is behind schedule with the announcement of a contractor now expected to take place in May.

It is disappointing that NI Water has fallen behind schedule on the Kinnegar improvement works.  Local residents and commuters have been living with these disgusting odours for far too long and the completion of the promised work must be an immediate priority.

I welcome NI Water’s attempts to alleviate the sewage problem, including raising the outlet weir of the lagoons, which seems to have reduced odour complaints significantly.  However these short-term solutions are not good enough and with only mask the overlying problem for so long.

Alliance activist Kate Nicholl added: “As a Holywood resident I am tired of not being able to enjoy the town’s open spaces or being able to open the windows of my home with confidence.  I look forward to the contractor being named and work getting underway later this year."

Portavo Reservoir update

Mayor Muir at Portavo Reservoir before it was drained
I am extremely concerned about the impact of the works currently being undertaken at Portavo Reservoir and potential damage to the Environment plus the wider Eco-System as a result of the drainage of this beautiful Reservoir.

Immediately after I became aware that the Reservoir was being drained I contacted NI Water with my concerns and have continued to request a full explanation.

I welcome the recent decision by North Down Borough Council to call for urgent action to be taken and have followed up matter by requesting a prompt meeting with the Minister for Regional Development. No response has unfortunately been received to this meeting request.

As someone who was closely involved in the Save Portavo campaign a few years ago and successfully managed to get sales plans postponed I am acutely aware of the concerns held and have regularly lobbied relevant government bodies.

I previously arranged a joint meeting between Minister Kennedy and North Down and Ards Mayors on Wednesday 4 September 2013 which helped clarify the Reservoirs future.

I intend to seek further assurances when I again meet with the Minister and will invite the Mayor of Ards to join me. Only by working together we can help secure a better future for Portavo.

Decision by NI Water to attend a special meeting of the joint North Down and Ards Portavo Working Group on Friday 25 April 2014 at 11am at Bangor Castle Town Hall to address the many queries and concerns that exist following decision to drain the Reservoir is to be welcomed but the decision to exclude members of the public does not help to build trust and confidence. I am therefore seeking clarification on what basis this decision has been made and unless commercial, legal or other matters are due to be considered I am inclined to propose that members of the public are allowed into the Public Gallery to hear the discussion.

Establishment of a Friends of Portavo group is to be welcomed and has my full support. An inclusive, community based support and lobbying group is essential to help co-ordinate campaign to save Portavo from ongoing environmental damage and potential sale.

Whilst the absence of any legislation regulating upkeep and maintenance of Reservoirs may inhibit NI Water from selling Portavo in the short term the Reservoirs Bill currently being debated at the NI Assembly has the potential to give NI Water the necessary vehicle to sell Portavo in the knowledge that the Act will place responsibility on upkeep and maintenance with any new owner rather than leaving this in limbo following any Reservoir sale. Imagine the outcry that would arise if NI Water sold a Reservoir without the Reservoirs Act and a flooding incident occurred because the new owner failed to properly maintain the facility! With the Reservoirs Bill proceeding apace it this therefore crucial that active consideration is given to how we can ensure Portavo is not simply sold the highest bidder.

NI Water have previously offered to transfer Portavo Reservoir to relevant local Councils for a nominal fee. With Portavo covering both North Down and Ards Council areas the forthcoming Councils merger provides us with an opportunity to safeguard this environmental haven for future generations in partnership perhaps with established countryside and wildlife groups. The terms of the transfer plus the ongoing maintenance costs and any infrastructure improvements must however be clarified before any decision is made. I intend to request this information and will not relent in my determination to save Portavo Reservoir. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Mayoral welcome for Groomsport Village Association

I welcomed representatives from Groomsport Village Association to the Mayor’s Parlour at the Town Hall, Bangor on Wednesday 2 April 2014 to recognise the strong and positive contribution the Association plays in making Groomsport a great place to live, visit or work.

As Mayor of North Down I have the opportunity to meet a wide range of people and organisations. Throughout my year I have been impressed at the courage and commitment shown by Groomsport Village Association and was therefore delighted to host them in the Mayor’s Parlour to recognise the work undertaken.

After narrowly missing out on the Best Kept Village title last year I am confident that with all the work being undertaken by the Village Association, Council, NI Water and other bodies the award could be clinched in 2014. I wish Groomsport Village Association best of luck in their future endeavours. They have my full support.

Mayor Muir welcomes Orange Order to Town Hall

 Ballyrobert WLOL LOL with Mayor Muir
at Town Hall, Bangor
I welcomed members of the Orange Order to the Town Hall last Thursday 27 March 2014.  Members of Ballyrobert Victoria True Blues LOL 1920 and Ballyrobert WLOL 47 visited the Town Hall and were given a guided tour by me.

I was delighted to welcome Ballyrobert LOL and WLOL to the Town Hall, enjoyed the conversations and opportunity to explain some of the history associated with Bangor Castle. As Mayor of North Down I am striving to be the Mayor For Everyone and am enjoying my open, inclusive and welcoming approach.  I look forward to engaging with many other groups over the remainder of my term. We are very lucky to have such a wide range of organisations that exist across the Borough which help make North Down a vibrant and diverse area I am proud to call home and is arguably the best place to live, visit or work.

Mayor welcomes Sullivan Upper School Rugby Team to Town Hall

I welcomed Sullivan Upper School, Holywood Rugby team to Bangor Town Hall on Monday 24 March 2014 to recognise achievement of reaching Ulster Schools Cup Final and to encourage them onwards & upwards.

I am enormously proud of Sullivan’s achievement to reach the Ulster Schools Cup Final and felt a Mayoral reception at the Town Hall was vital to recognise this proud moment for the team, Sullivan, Holywood and the Borough in general. Whilst they did not win the team played well and with yet more focus and determination can hopefully fight back and win the Ulster Schools Cup next year. I wish them best of luck and was delighted to have the opportunity to meet the team and the staff which made this achievement possible.