North Down Alliance Insight

This month I provide another insight into The Alliance Party in North Down.

December 2008: North Down Alliance prepare for 2009

With Christmas fast approaching The Alliance Party’s North Down Association Executive Committee met on Monday 8 December 2008 to plan future activity during 2009.

A wide ranging list of possible fundraising events for 2009 were discussed with agreement that a definitive programme of events should be finalised at the Association AGM in January 2009.

Those present at the recent Party Council meeting in Newtownards expressed the opinion that the meeting had been extremely positive focusing on the real issues facing the people of Northern Ireland.

Local elected representatives provided an update on recent issues such as the problems currently being experienced at the new recycling facilities provided by North Down Borough Council.

The economic downturn was also discussed with a general feeling that NI Executive has failed to react promptly and effectively by, for example, bringing forward many capital projects to help the construction sector.

The meeting concluded with a brief discussion concerning plans for the Association AGM in January 2009.

15 December 2008

A nation of lonely hearts

The BBC yesterday published a report entitled “Changing UK” focusing on Community Spirit across Great Britain.

The report and associated video coverage can be viewed by clicking here.

Whilst I have a few concerns about the accuracy of some statistics I strongly agree with the overall message that “UK is a nation of lonely hearts, with traditional community life fading away”

The breakdown of community life is, I believe, one the biggest problems currently facing society. It is affecting many aspects of everyday life and inhibiting the development of a safe, inclusive and sustainable society.

Individualistic concerns often mean that people are now more concerned with their own selfish concerns rather than the greater good e.g. burning fossil fuels and continuing to contribute to Global Warming via driving Chelsea Tractors whilst the threat of Climate Change increases.

Many different approaches have been advocated to deal with the breakdown in community life and its effects e.g. gated communities to prevent crime, return to moral values of the 1950s to tackle the rise in divorces.

I, not surprisingly, advocate a different approach which encourages people to focus more on well being rather than purely on wealth. This can be achieved through an array of means ranging from hard to soft options such as financially incentivising collaborative action and softer options were people are "nudged" to choose better options.

Whilst I intend to outline possible solutions to address the problem at a later date the BBC report serves as a timely reminder that the breakdown of community life is a significant and important issue that needs to be addressed.

2 December 2008

The Boyne Bridge

Below is a copy of the letter I today sent to the Editor of The County Down Spectator

Dear Editor

I write in relation to the ongoing saga concerning The Boyne Bridge.

In times of economic hardship I am amazed that Cllr Easton feels that spending money erecting signage bearing useless information is a priority.

I do not dispute that the bridge over the railway line on the Brunswick Road is, according to Ordnance Survey, named as The Boyne Bridge.

I do however dispute the reasons why Cllr Easton is pursuing his campaign for the Roads Service to erect signage on the bridge denoting its name.

It has been contended that the attempt to erect signage on The Boyne Bridge is a simple technical matter devoid of any political motivation.

Many bridges exist across North Down which don’t have signage denoting their name. I therefore contend that Cllr Easton has focused on The Boyne Bridge merely because of its name and all that The Battle of Boyne means.

To state that the focus on The Boyne Bridge is innocent and purely co-incidental insults the intelligence of most people.

The Battle of the Boyne was fought in 1690. 318 years later I suggest that Cllr Easton and his colleagues focus on the real issues facing North Down residents rather than shamefully appealing to jingoistic concerns.

Cllr Easton should stop fighting ancient battles and instead focus on building bridges with all sections of the community across North Down.

2 December 2008