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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 

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

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

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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.

Change of legislation needed to promote active lifestyles, says Muir

If we are to properly promote active lifestyles, there needs to be a change of legislation to help organisers of local sporting events across North Down and beyond.

I met with Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon on Monday 9 March 2020 alongside representatives from Athletics Northern Ireland, Triathlon Ireland and the Northern Ireland Sports Forum, to discuss the Roads Miscellaneous Provisions Act (NI) 2010, which permits the closure of roads for the holding of special events.


 From left, John Allen (Athletics NI), Darren Coombes (Triathlon Ireland), Andrew Muir MLA, David Seaton (Athletics NI), Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon MLA and Ciaran Kearney (NI Sports Forum).

New legislation in 2017 gave local authorities the power to approve such events on roads. 

This legislation was pushed through just as the Assembly was collapsing, with many far-reaching negative consequences upon local communities and sporting bodies.

It comes at a time when we are trying to encourage active lifestyles and community participation. However, with devolution now restored, an opportunity now exists to fix this bad law. I was therefore grateful to the Minister for meeting and listening to the issues experienced by the officials from the relevant representative bodies.

I am pleased there are plans to undertake a review with a consultation to gather the views, with an aim to agree a way forward by early autumn. If we are to properly promote active lifestyles, the legislation needs changed and organisers should not be hit with prohibitive costs and rules, resulting in significantly higher entry fees and the cancellation of events.