Muir calls for better approach to Census reminders

I have recently been contacted by older people worried they will be fined £1,000 and are unable to speak to someone to tell them the form was sent weeks ago.
With Census Day weeks ago on 27 March some people are now receiving reminders telling them they haven’t returned their form and face a £1,000 form if they don’t hurry up and return the form.
Unfortunately, in a number of instances, the form has already been returned and these reminders are causing serious distress amongst some recipients fearful of the high fine. This is compounded by the fact that when people ring the Census Helpline they cannot speak to anyone as they face a recorded message.
Government must now act without delay and introduce a better approach. They should withdraw the reminders which have caused real concern, replacing them with a polite note and they must also ensure people can speak to someone about the issue.

Muir welcomes more planned Road Improvements in Holywood

I welcome plans to resurface Brook Street, Holywood after recently lobbying the Roads Service to take action and succeeding in persuading the Roads body to resurface Demense Road, Holywood.

Brook Street is currently in a terrible state of disrepair after the cold winter experienced in late 2010 with numerous pot holes posing a threat to motorists and cyclists alike. After lobbying the Roads Service for action I am very  grateful to learn that Brook Street has been added to the resurfacing programme for 2011 / 2012.

I will continue to monitor the situation and endeavour to ensure Brook Street is resurfaced as planned from Monday 23 May to Friday 3 June 2011, delivering upon my commitment to Lead Change across Holywood whether it be via securing resurfacing of Demense Road or improving cycle routes, Alliance delivers.

North Down Council election results

On Monday 9 May 2011 six Alliance Party Councillors were elected to North Down Borough Council including Larry Thompson and I for the Holywood District Electoral Area, Anne Wilson and Tony Hill for Bangor West, Michael Bower for Abbey and Christine Bower for Ballyholme and Groomsport.

Contact details for your new Alliance Councillors can be found at

Full results for all District Electoral Areas can be found at http://www.spectatornewspapers.co.uk/news-and-events.asp?id=1467


Votes 4,436

76 invalid

Total valid 4360

47.03% Turnout

Quota 727

John Barry, Green, 525

Gordon Dunne, DUP, 1081 (elected)

Jennifer Gilmour, DUP, 252 (elected)

Gillian McGimpsey, UUP, 250

Ellie McKay, UUP, 675 (elected)

Andrew Muir, Alliance, 991 (elected)

David O´Callaghan, Conservative and Unionist 185

Larry Thompson, Alliance, 401 (elected)

First stage, deemed elected. Dunne and Muir.

After second stage, McKay elected

After third stage, McGimpsey, O´Callaghan eliminated

After fourth stage, Thompson elected

Final stage, Gilmour elected

Improved cycling route secured in Holywood

Cllr Muir along with Bikeworks owner Paul Smith at
launch of Friends of the Earth / Sustrans
North Down Cycling Manifesto
I have managed to secure agreement to improve a key cycling route in Holywood with cyclists now able to easily make their way from Holywood to Belfast along a low traffic route.

After lobbying Belfast Harbour Police for months I have secured agreement to keep the gates into Belfast Harbour Estate open every evening and also at weekends with a new access point soon to be created for cyclists and pedestrians.

Previously this gate was closed all day Sunday and many cyclists and pedestrians often had to retrace their steps or tyre marks after making the journey from Holywood through Kinnegar and then to the Harbour Estate only to find the gate locked. The new arrangement has been trialled and it has been agreed to keep the gates open on a permanent basis with a new access point on the horizon for cyclists and pedestrians.

I am very grateful to Belfast Harbour Police for their efforts to facilitate cyclists and pedestrians. Rather than telling me to ‘Get on Yer Bike’ they have made this cycling route much more accessible. Opening the gates is another useful development putting the wheels in motion towards the creation of a Bicycle Friendly Borough. Cyclists can now easily make their way along this route and then to Belfast via Airport Road rather than having to compete with many other vehicles on a busy road.

Over the last few months I have been Leading Change to make North Down a Bicycle friendly Borough. North Down urgently needs connected with the National Cycle Network which covers over 800 miles linking nearly every town across Northern Ireland.

With the Harbour gates now opened the next key challenge is the full upgrade of the North Down Coastal Path to Sustrans standards to accommodate cyclists.  Large sections of the path have already been upgraded but the wheels need to be put in motion to upgrade other more tricky sections near Rockport School and Seahill. I will continue to lobby for funding to ensure the scenic Coastal Path becomes a key cycling corridor linking Bangor and Holywood with the rest of the network.

Naomi Long supports Alliance election campaign in Holywood

Alliance Team in Holywood with Naomi Long MP
along with staff from Floral Earth
Naomi Long MP joined North Down election candidates on the election trail in Holywood on Saturday 30 April 2011. 

Accompanying Naomi were 
Holywood Council candidates Larry Thompson and I along with Assembly candidate Stephen Farry who is standing alongside Anne Wilson.

Naomi Long, who serves as the Alliance Party’s Deputy Leader and Member of Parliament for East Belfast met with a number of business people at The Yard Coffee Shop and Gallery and then engaged with local residents along Holywood’s High Street. Naomi then concluded her visit after visiting Floral Earth florists on Church Road, Holywood.

Council candidates Larry Thompson and
Andrew Muir with Floral Earth staff
Naomi greatly enjoyed her visit to Holywood and was impressed by the strong support being shown towards Alliance. After speaking to business people and residents alike it’s clear that people want politicians who Lead Change and aspire to a better shared future rather than maintaining the status quo.

The forthcoming election is everyone’s opportunity to Lead Change by electing Alliance MLAs and Councillors dedicated to real delivery and the creation of a Shared, Prosperous, Clean and Green future. Alliance has a great slate of candidates in North Down offering a range of expertise and an unrivalled level of commitment.

Muir working to achieve Best Kept Town status for Holywood

Dennis Ogborn MBE and Cllr Andrew Muir
supporting Best Kept Town Status 
I am seeking to improve Holywood's chances of obtaining the Best Kept Town Status by tackling eyesores across Holywood.

If we are to achieve the Best Kept Town status again it's important that we have a tidy town with litter and eyesores removed. I have therefore focused my efforts over the last few months on a number of issues such as Moffet’s, Gray's Lane, Stewart's Place, Patton's Lane and Twisel Bridge.

Moffet's, the derelict building and former Butchers previously located on Downshire Road, has now thankfully been removed whilst concerted action has resulted in a tidier Gray's Lane. Working alongside veteran campaigner Dennis Ogborn MBE we recently managed to recover over 80 milk crates which had been dumped in Gray's Lane and were fast becoming an awful eye sore.

No 1 Stewart’s Place, a listed building located near The Priory, has also recently been tidied up with external vegetation and the advertising banner removed as a result of concerted lobbying by a local activist and I. Whilst much more work is required to save 1 Stewart’s Place this is a welcome start.

After lots of lobbying I can also report progress at Patton's Lane with vacant units now secured and sale of the site on the horizon. I am particularly grateful that the old taxi office has been made secure since it was often a magnet for anti social behaviour.

News that the derelict building’s on Patton’s Lane and Church View may soon be demolished and replaced with a new development is to be welcomed with Planning Permission already in place for 23 Apartments.
I have also been working hard to tidy up Twisel Bridge. After protracted discussions I have managed to establish who is responsible for the upkeep of the area and am relentlessly pressurising the relevant bodies to tidy up the path and the bridge, known locally as the Kissing Bridge.

It is my hope that these combined efforts will help improve Holywood’s chances of regaining the Best Kept Town status it rightly deserves.