Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Muir welcomes Trevor Street resurfacing plans in Holywood

Current state of Trevor Street
I have welcomed plans to resurface both the road and pavement at Trevor Street in Holywood after concerted lobbying for action.

With the road in an awful state of disrepair containing old coal tar and pavements a complete mess with weeds and grass growing amongst the slabs I am delighted that Transport NI now plan to resurface the road and lay a new pavement after months of sustained lobbying. 

Whilst this will result in a long closure over the month of August the end result should be a much more attractive street which is rightly a popular place to live. The residents deserve good quality road and pavements and hopefully will not face undue disruption as this is finally delivered by Transport NI to whom I wish to express my thanks for taking forward this project in the face of tight budgets and many competing pressures

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Alliance encourages public to report odours to help plug the pong

Chris Lyttle MLA and Alderman
Andrew Muir at Tillysburn Stream
East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle and myself are encouraging local people to report any malodours after meeting with Senior NI Environment Agency (NIEA) and NI Water personnel to discuss concerns relating to malodours and pollution at the Tillysburn Stream which runs from Tillysburn roundabout, behind IKEA towards B and Q and adjoins the Kinnegar lagoons which have been remediated following £4.5million investment by NI Water after years of lobbying by myself.

With local Holywood residents still experiencing malodours I was keen to meet with officials alongside Chris Lyttle MLA for East Belfast to discuss possible causes especially after previous reports that East Belfast's ageing sewage network may be contributing to the problem.

I would like to thank NIEA and NI Water representatives for taking the time to meet on-site and discuss the issue. Whilst  investment in upgrade of sewage system can only but improve the situation it was felt that this may not be the key cause. Members of the public are therefore to be encouraged to promptly report any malodours to the Pollution Hotline via telephoning 0800 807060 or email to enable further investigation into possible causes. It was also felt that the natural effect of aerobic decomposition of sediment and tidal movements could be a cause but until a definitive pattern is found concerning when and where odours are experienced officials cannot pin point the exact cause.

Chris Lyttle Alliance MLA for East Belfast remarked "This was a useful and informative meeting proving yet again the need for investment and also for any malodours to be reported to enable thorough investigation. As a Member of the NI Assembly I will continue to lobby for NI Water to receive sufficient funding to enable delivery of fit for purpose water and sewage infrastructure which minimises pollution incidents".

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Lighting up Ards Town Hall for LGBT Awareness Week positive progress towards an inclusive Borough

Ards Town Hall was illuminated in Rainbow colours on Monday 13 May 2019 to mark the start of LGBT Awareness Week.

I warmly welcome this small but important step after initially making the proposal last year.

Lighting up Ards Town Hall in Rainbow colours by Ards and North Down Borough Council as part of efforts to mark LGBT Awareness Week helps us to build a truly inclusive Borough for everyone reaching out to LGBT citizens, their family, friends and colleagues making it known they are valued and welcome members of our society. 

With the proposal passed by only one vote I would like to thank all the Councillors who voted in favour and look forward to yet further progress by the Council towards building a Borough which embraces and positively celebrates diversity. 

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Thank you to everyone who voted Alliance

I would like to thank every single person who came out to vote Alliance demanding better and can assure them that we will work relentlessly hard to deliver better with work already underway to deliver upon the trust place in the Alliance Party. This election has sent a powerful message about the desire for positive, progressive and practical politics with ten out of the ten Alliance candidates fielded in Ards and North Down all elected and many topping the poll. 

I have waited my entire life for the political change that swept across Northern Ireland last week with more and more new progressive people elected from the shadows of our old divisive politics of the past committed to building a new Northern Ireland which is modern, open, inclusive, and outward looking. 

In contrast to the impasse at the Assembly and Brexit-inspired deadlock at Westminster, Councils are the only tier of local government still functioning. While things are stagnating elsewhere, we are determined to make Local Government work for local people focused on solutions not problems and open and transparent politics which engages with communities and engenders trust.

Councillor Andrew Muir, Alliance Party Councillor for Holywood and Clandeboye Electoral Area and Alliance Party Group Leader, Ards and North Down Borough Council

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Muir welcomes news Cairn Wood now safely in public ownership

Councillor Muir at Cairn Wood
I welcome news that Cairn Wood has now transferred into public ownership with NI Water recently writing to me to confirm that it was transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on 1 April 2019.

After a concerted campaign I am delighted to learn that Cairn Wood has now been saved with potential sale to the highest bidder no longer a possibility. The thousands who signed my petition, protested and lobbied government have delivered a secure future for Cairn Wood proving that people power delivers.

Transfer of monies from the Department of Agriculture to NI Water for the land ensures that Cairn Wood will remain in public hands for the enjoyment by future generations. I am thrilled to be informed of this news after writing to NI Water earlier in the year seeking progress on the issue with the same dogged determination I first demonstrated when I learned of plans to sell of the Forest in November 2015.

The next step to be taken is signing off the Memorandum of Understanding and Licence with Ards and North Down Borough Council to develop and operate the paths and Forest generally. This work has been well progressed and if re-elected I intend to press hard to ensure Council concludes discussions and proceeds with work to ensure Cairn Wood is properly maintained in close consultation with users and stakeholders.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Alliance due to meet NI Water & NI Environment Agency to end pollution of Tillysburn Stream

North Down and East Belfast Alliance representatives have joined forces and are due to meet both Northern Ireland Water and the NI Environment Agency after the cause of pollution of the Tillysburn Stream was recently revealed. Pollution of the stream has resulted in malodours for local residents with Holywood householders regularly complaining about the awful smell.

After receiving reports of malodours from local people in Kinnegar and along the Belfast Road in Holywood late last year I immediately made contact with NI Water seeking answers as to the possible cause. This resulted in a site visit to the Kinnegar Waste Water Treatment works which are now operating correctly after the multi million pound investment I secured a number of years ago to end discharge of sewage into the Kinnegar Lagoons which had been causing a nuisance for decades.

During my site visit we did however also inspect Tillysburn Stream with malodours clearly evident. Tillysburn Stream is a stretch of water running from Tillysburn Roundabout to back of IKEA, Holywood Exchange and B&Q. As a result of this visit to Tillysburn Stream I made contact with Belfast Harbour Commissioners, who own the area in question but they were unfortunately unable to establish the root cause of the problem.  I therefore referred the issue to the NI Environment Agency who have now responded stating:

There are a number of NI Water Combined Sewer Overflows which discharge into the Tillysburn Stream. Previous investigations have found that these CSOs discharge during wet weather and may be contributing to the malodours you refer to. NIW are currently working on the East Belfast Drainage Area Plan, this plan will identify NIW assets which require investment in order to improve and protect the environment for East Belfast. The Drainage Area Plan will include the CSOs discharging into the Tillysburn Stream. Delivery of the improvements will be dependent on NIW funding.

Discharging sewage into the Tillysburn Stream is not acceptable nor can it continue with residents wrongly forced to endure awful odours and local wildlife present along the Tillysburn Lagoons required to inhabit filthy dirty water. I therefore intend to use the meeting to press both NI Water and the NI Environment Agency for dates and commitments to end the pollution. Local people and wildlife should no longer have to endure the pollution forced upon them as a result of lack of investment in our sewage infrastructure.”

East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle commented “We have already seen the benefits of investment made in our sewage and waste water network across East Belfast but much more is needed to bring Belfast up to the standards required to ensure pollution incidents are minimised and our rivers and streams remain clean and places where wildlife can flourish. I look forward to meeting the NI Water and NIEA officials and will be doing all I can to ensure adequate and prompt investment in our infrastructure”.