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Andrew Muir MLA

Alliance Party Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for North Down

Finance and Infrastructure Spokesperson

Former Mayor of North Down and Councillor on Ards and North Down Borough Council 

Member of NI Assembly Infrastructure and Public Accounts Committees


CONTACT DETAILS

Casework & Constituency queries 

Telephone 028 9052 0351 Email office@andrewmuir.net 

Room 279, Northern Ireland Assembly, Parliament Buildings, Ballymiscaw, Stormont, Belfast, BT4 3XX 

Telephone 07813 945411 Email mail@andrewmuir.net

Alliance calls for Council to put wheels in motion towards Coastal Path upgrade

Councillor Martin McRandal and
Andrew Muir MLA at North Down
Coastal Path section in need of upgrade

North Down Alliance Councillor Martin McRandal and I have urged the Council and Department for Infrastructure to progress plans apace to make North Down Coastal Path safer and easier to travel by prioritising upgrade of the stretch between Royal Belfast Golf Club and Seahill. 

We have made the call after the Department for Infrastructure made £20 million available as part of Blue Green Fund for Greenways and other initiatives.

With more people out walking, running and cycling in recent times the need to deliver fit for purpose safe infrastructure for active living and travel is increasingly important.

This has been rightly recognised by government setting aside a fund for Greenways and other infrastructure.

Ards and North Down Council should seek to utilise the funding without delay proceeding to the next stage to deliver schemes already in development across the Borough linking Holywood to Bangor, Donaghadee to Conlig and on to Newtownards and the Comber Greenway.

Councillor Martin McRandal commented “We are blessed to have this wonderful resource which many of us have been taking the opportunity to enjoy within the past few weeks. The fact that it accommodates different types of users - walkers, dog walkers, runners and cyclists - can cause difficulties. Development of this section of the coastal path will help to alleviate these difficulties and make it safer for all users.”

 

Muir and McRandal welcomes Cairn Wood Forest upgrade works

Councillor Martin McRandal and I have welcomed planned upgrades at Cairn Wood Forest in Craigantlet whilst appealing for patience with car park to remain closed in order to enable the works to occur.

Ards and North Down Borough Council have been awarded funding from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. The first phase involves extension of the Car Park and new toilet facility. The second phase involves improvements to the walking trails. The walki

@LansPics on Twitter

ng trails will be made more suitable for family / casual cycling rather than mountain biking in light of consultation responses received by Council. A trail designer has been commissioned to develop detailed plans.

Works were due to commence in March 2020 but were put on hold due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Works will start on 15 June and complete in October 2020. Both the car park and woodland will be closed for this period.

After leading a concerted and successful campaign involving nearly 3,000 people signing a Petition to Save Cairn Wood I'm delighted to see works soon due to commence to upgrade parts of the very popular Forest. With Cairn Wood now firmly in public hands, fully owned by the Forest Service by managed by the Council a long term future can be developed in sympathy to current scenic surroundings and liaison with key users who were critical in efforts to stop sale of the Forest to the highest bidder.

I will be engaging with Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in due course to ensure funding flows to enable the Council to progress plans previously developed and consulted upon
.

Councillor Martin McRandal stated "This is exciting news. The works will include extension of the trail network within the woodland, extension of the car park and new WC facilities.

The works are due to begin 15th June, with plans to reopen Cairn Wood in October. Unfortunately whilst the works are ongoing both the car park and the woodland will be closed to the public. We appeal to everyone for patience. Please do not travel to Cairn Wood whilst it is closed. Vehicles cannot safely park on the B170 Craigantlet Road."

 

Muir calls for Minister to take the brakes off Greenway Funding

The Minister for Infrastructure needs to release funding earmarked for Greenway Schemes as we seek to encourage more Active Travel.

With the amount of people out walking on the increase and government keen to encourage more Active Travel it’s frustrating that the Department for Infrastructure is holding back monies for Greenway Schemes across Northern Ireland


Many Councils, including Ards and North Down, have developed schemes but had to app
ly the brakes whilst they await funding to enable to them to proceed to the next stage. This follows extensive consultations and scoping studies previously undertaken aiming to achieve works which make routes more accessible whilst sensitively respecting the surrounding environment and taking into account views expressed.


I have submitted a formal question to the Minister for Infrastructure for an update on Greenway funding in the hope that she puts in the wheels in motion and will continue to push for progress keen to ensure we can get the schemes developed moving”.

Information on Ards and North Down Council Greenway Plans at https://www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/about-the-council/consultations/greenways-network

Our ‘New Normal’ must be cleaner and greener than the past

Our new ‘New Normal’ to be cleaner and greener than the past. The need to tackle Climate Change to avert catastrophe will still be with us once COVID-19 passes, with a real risk that poor air quality returns if we don’t take big decisions now to avoid clogging our streets up with cars.

As Alliance Party Infrastructure Spokesperson I welcome Minister Nichola Mallon’s announcement to appoint a Walking and Cycling Champion but urge that practical actions are be taken without delay.

Decisions taken in the next few weeks about how we travel in Northern Ireland will effect generations to come. It is therefore crucial that the Department for Infrastructure and wider Executive grasp the challenge and lead historic step change towards active, sustainable and accessible travel. Recent reports that traffic in Northern Ireland has not fallen to the same levels as rest of UK and Ireland are a matter of real concern which ought to motivate all Executive Ministers to take swift action.

I welcome news the Infrastructure Minister is prepared to consider my suggestion that government offer discount vouchers for purchase and repair of Bicycles. A simple but perhaps effective way to boost Active Travel.

Capital Investment plans must also be reviewed and reprioritised to reflect new priorities of 2020 with significant active and public transport provision required to enable both social distancing now and a more sustainable future ahead.

Our cycling before Social Distancing was a term we heard about

The public sector also ought to lead the way in moving towards new working arrangements including working from home, staggered and flexible working patterns plus video conferencing, all embraced as the norm

Further action such as Bus and Rail Fare Promotions, amending legislation to enable a more speedy introduction of cycling provision and bus lanes should be considered alongside a ban on pavement parking plus assistance and guidance for the Taxi industry to continue in the context of social distancing requirements.