Sunday, 21 November 2021
North Down Alliance MLA Andrew Muir seized the opportunity to use his Spend Local pre-paid card to not only support the local High Street but also to help a local charity provide resources to the most vulnerable in society. The Salvation Army Christmas Appeal will be the recipient of his purchase of £100 worth of toys which will then be distributed to families who are struggling.
Mr Muir said: “I went shopping, card in hand to Stewart Miller in Holywood and released my 'inner child' by choosing a range of toys which I will be dropping off to Bangor Salvation Army for their Christmas Present Appeal. This annual campaign invites donations of new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children who might not otherwise receive a Christmas present. A win win situation providing a fantastic opportunity to support our local high street businesses and to help charities provide resources and goods to the most vulnerable in society. I have found it particularly heart-warming that we have heard from so many local constituents who are planning to use their cards for donation purposes however not everyone will be in this position and it's important that people do so only if they can and that any purchases made are something that a charity needs.
I was delighted to hear that the High Street Voucher Scheme deadline for spending has been extended by two weeks until December 14 which will maximise the benefit not only to individuals but to our local businesses - there's lots of choice whether its retail, hospitality and service sectors or donating to charity but the important message is that everyone spends the full £100 of their Spend Local card.”
Sunday, 7 November 2021
North Down Alliance MLA Andrew Muir made a splash at the Assembly on Tuesday 2 November when he brought concerns about water quality and safety at Coastal Bathing areas across North Down.
The Alliance representative used an Adjournment debate to highlight the dangers of pollution, the need for regular water quality testing and the importance of both water safety education and enforcement after recent sewage discharges and near misses between swimmers and jet skis.
Speaking on the matter Mr Muir said: “With coastal bathing and other open water pursuits such as paddle boarding increasingly popular partially as a result of the pandemic which encouraged people to get outdoors, an improved response from government is essential.
Living in North Down I am acutely aware that the beautiful beaches on my doorstep that not now only used during these Summer months but throughout the year by swimmers, paddle boarders, kayakers and other open water sports enthusiasts.
On a daily basis in both warm and cold weather many people are now using our coastal waters at many different places. It is therefore vital that any possible risk to the health of swimmers, paddle boarders and others is quickly identified and reported before they choose to take the plunge. The current bathing water quality testing regime is entirely insufficient only taking place only between 1 June – 15 September at a small select number of sites. Many of the now popular bathing areas around North Down are excluded, such as Brompton and Skippingstone in Bangor and Orlock in Groomsport.
Worryingly a waste water pumping station located near Helen’s Bay beach has been found to have pumped raw sewage into the sea on a number of occasions over the last number of years but without any warning system in place all bathers are told to do is avoid the water for 48 hours after heavy rainfall. With no system to tell bathers the pumping station had been busy potentially polluting the sea some only find out when it’s too late leaving them to rush home to wash down and at risk of serious health problems.
Raising further concerns, Mr Muir continued: “Urgent increased investment in the water bathing infrastructure, promoting safety through well-placed visual information, sea awareness and convenient access for all is also required.
With a lack of regulation around recreation and personal watercrafts, the current risk to swimmers is colossal and I am regularly contacted by constituents who have either witnessed or experienced these near-collisions. Proposed actions by both the Department of Transport in London and Department for Environment at Stormont to both better regulate and provide powers of enforcement for use of personal watercrafts are welcome but can’t come quick enough.”
Concluding, Mr Muir stated “I feel immensely proud to live in an area of such amazing natural beauty and to observe the trend in individuals and groups making the most of our beaches and open water for their physical and mental health. Moving forward it is essential government better supports this increasingly popular activity by ensuring regular, wide-reach water-sampling across North Down, good communication of this information to bathers and both increased safety messaging and enforcement to ensure everyone has an enjoyable, but more importantly safe visit to our beautiful coastal areas."
Alliance MLA for North Down, Andrew Muir recently submitted a question to the Minister for Infrastructure regarding the repair of significant damage to the crash barriers at the entrance to Bangor Park and Ride carpark in Abbey Street.
The Alliance Party Infrastructure Spokesperson said: "Following an extended period of damage to this crash barrier, I submitted a formal Assembly question to the Minister as to when this will be repaired. People are rightly fed up seeing this and other barriers left damaged for what seems like an eternity.
These barriers were installed as part of works to spruce up Bangor Town Centre a number of years ago and are more ornate than the standard guardrails.
I am glad the Minister is now able to confirm that a contractor has been instructed to fabricate a matching guardrail and should be in place by the end of November 2021. A case perhaps of better late than never with action still required tackle many other reported and long awaited repairs around rest of North Down"
Tuesday, 26 October 2021
|Andrew Muir MLA at Spencer Street, Holywood|
North Down Alliance MLA and Party Infrastructure spokesperson Andrew Muir has voiced his profound disappointment the Department for Infrastructure have failed to grasp opportunity to tackle massive backlog of roads re-surfacing in the North Down area.
Andrew Muir MLA said: "The Department for Infrastructure submitted their annual budget and plan to Council on 12 October which details work carried out last year and sets out the upcoming works for the financial year 2021/2022. It is unacceptable that we have just had sight of this, six months into the financial year. My office is contacted daily by constituents who have watched on, year after year, as the state of our roads and footways continue to fall into a further state of disrepair after years of neglect. We need to get the basics right and this begins with a road network that’s fit for purpose.
The Department needs to buck up its ideas after failing to bid for more monies this year and handing back £1 million in the last year as a result of a lamentable failure to spend on road resurfacing projects hitting North Down hard. Just because procurement issues exist in some other Council areas is no excuse for the failure to get cracking on sorting roads and pavements across North Down, if anything more works ought to be occurring whilst works suspended elsewhere.
I find it incredulous that some essential works in the North Down area have not been included in this current plan. A few urgent works I have been requesting over the last couple of years include, but not limited to: re-surfacing on Patton’s Lane in Holywood where I am only too aware of people falling and injuring themselves in recent months. Add to this Spencer Street in Holywood, Groomsport Road in Bangor, a pedestrian crossing request on the Rathgael Road near Lynn Hall development in Bangor and so many more. The pace and scale of delivery by the Department for Infrastructure is simply not good enough, real change is needed to give North Down good quality, safe roads and pavements.
Concluding, Andrew Muir MLA stated “I do however welcome the good news that within the plan we will see essential resurfacing work take place on Holywood High Street and Kinnegar Drive, Holywood, two areas I have long been campaigning for action on. The Department said these works were still in the design phase and timeframes have yet to be completed, I will check back on progress around this in the coming months as someone determined to see the works done, without delay.”