Muir calls for action to re-open Portavo Reservoir

Cllr Muir at Portavo Reservoir
The Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) should urgently progress their review concerning access to Portavo Reservoir car park following a recent decision to lock the gate and limit access.
I recently became aware that the gate at Portavo Reservoir had been locked and access was being restricted to this scenic beauty spot by DCAL. I immediately contacted the Angling section within DCAL and after lots of lobbying received an assurance that a review would be carried out concerning access arrangements to the Reservoir. Meanwhile serious Road Safety concerns continue to exist with visitors forced to park on the busy A2 Bangor to Donagadee road, often dodging cars which zoom close by.

Sorrow and Inspiration at Lisburn Half Marathon

Last Wednesday I took part in the Lisburn 10k road race, part of a series of races involving a Fun Run, Half Marathon and 10k which occur on the same day. The races are long established and increasingly popular.

Every year I take part in the 10k I am conscious of the tragedy which occurred in 1988 when six soldiers were murdered by the IRA after five took part in the Half Marathon and one in the Fun Run. 

The pain, suffering and sorrow as a result of Northern Ireland’s troubled past continues today for many. As recently highlighted when Mary McArdle was appointed as a Special Advisor, the need to develop a means to address our past hasn’t gone away and should be tackled rather than dodged by the Secretary of State and our First and deputy First Ministers.

Rory Rory Rory

There is a real sense of joy and anticipation across Holywood after Rory won the US Open late on Sunday night. The topic of discussion in local coffee shops, bars and Newsagents is Rory, Rory, Rory with locals extremely proud of Rory's achievement.

Posters are displayed in shop windows and a mural of the golfing hero now adorns the subway linking the Town Centre and the Railway station, painted a few weeks ago as part of community initative which aims to build upon the good community relations which already exist in the County Down Town.

Muir welcomes funding bids to upgrade North Down Coastal Path

I welcome the decision by North Down Borough Council to seek funding to upgrade the final sections of the North Down Coastal Path. Last Tuesday Council agreed to seek funding from NI Environment Agency and Sustrans to allow walkers and cyclists to travel from Holywood to Bangor along a wider high quality path capable of accomodating bicycles and pedestrians alike.

As a local Councillor and Sustrans Ranger I warmly welcome the decision to seek funding to upgrade the remaining parts of the Coastal Path including the funding bid to tackle the tricky steps at Seahill which make it very difficult for cyclists to peddle from Holywood to Bangor. 

Muir welcomes action to reclaim King John's Walk as Right of Way

Picture of path previously blocked
I welcome the decision by North Down Borough Council to take decisive action to re-open King John’s Highway which has been blocked since August 2010 until earlier this week when it was mysteriously re-opened.

Following sustained lobbying from me, local people and a substancial petition calling for action I am pleased that the Council intend to refer the matter to the Courts in the next few weeks in order to remove to blockage and have King John’s Walk asserted in law as a Public Right of Way.

Last week I handed over a petition to North Down Borough Council containing over 250 signatures calling for the obstructions to be removed forthwith and for all relevant statutory bodies to ensure that future generations can safely enjoy this Right of Way. The case for action is therefore clear.

Bike Week 2011 in North Down

Programme of Events for Bike Week 2011 in North Down have now been finalised, please see below.

I hope you will be able to come along to some of the events and help the joint Friends of the Earth North Down & Ards group / Sustrans campaign to create a Bicycle friendly Borough in North Down.

Mystery Ice Cream Cycle Ride from McKee Clock lastly one hour to a mystery destination and back to the Banana Boat, Gray’s Hill on Wednesday 22 June 2011 departing at 7pm from McKee Clock. Organised by Friends of the Earth North Down & Ards group and Sustrans and supported by Bike Works. No need to pre-register attendance. Contact Paul at Bikeworks for more details Tel 07999302672.

Cycle Skills & Fun Night at Bloomfield Shopping Centre (M&S Multi Story) on Thursday 23 June 2011 at 6pm to 8.30pm organised by North Down Cycle Club and North Down Borough Council Sports Development. Includes skills events, bike safety checks, prizes and open to Children in P4, P5, P6, P7 and Year 8. Participation by pre-entry only with closing date for entries £5 Cost including goodie bag £5. Registration via Tanya Fisher at Bangor Castle Leisure Centre by 10 June 2011 Telephone 028 9146 46667 or email Tanya.Fisher@northdown.gov.uk

Muir condemns fly posting for new nightclub

I condemn the appearance of stickers and posters on lampposts across North Down seeking to advertise a new Night Club. The stickers and posters are a disgrace and I am lobbying the local Council to take action and tackle the problem.

Lampposts across Bangor, Holywood and beyond recently were defaced when stickers and then posters were attached with the message "Bangor Likes This", seeking, it seems, to build interest in a new nightclub which may be opening in Bangor. Many people have contacted me about the issue, some via Facebook and Twitter, requesting action, clearly stating that “Bangor doesn’t like this.

I have contacted relevant Council officers and understand that all available avenues are being explored to get the stickers and posters removed. Anyone with information concerning individuals or company responsible for erection of the stickers and posters should pass this onto the Council in order to help them take action.

Amnesty at 50 Years, the campaigning continues

Last week Amnesty International celebrated its 50th Birthday.

Back on 28 May 1961, David Astor had an articled printed in The Observer entitled "The Forgotten Prisoners" which became part of an "Appeal For Amnesty".

Amnesty International was then born and has grown into a strong organisation fighting for Human Rights across the globe.

Yesterday I spent time writing letters to stop the Execution of Troy Davis.

I also wrote to the Government of Sri Lanka concerning the enforced disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda

I am a member of Amnesty International for many reasons but, most importantly, because I believe that everyone across the world should be able to enjoy basic Human Rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights especially the Right to Life which Troy may soon be denied.

If you are interested in supporting Amnesty, their campaigns and specific people such as Troy and Prageeth visit www.amnesty.org.uk or contact their Belfast Office (397 Ormeau Road, Belfast, BT7 3GP 028 9064 3000) to find out more details about your local Amnesty group.

Muir calls for action to sort Holywood Town Centre parking problems

The Department for Regional Development need to consider introducing Resident Parking schemes and issue the long awaited Town Centre Parking Report for Holywood without any further delay.

I am often contacted by people in relation to the chronic parking problems experienced in Holywood Town Centre with streets such as Park Drive, Trevor Street, Downshire Road, Spencer Street and My Lady's Mile particularly affected. People living in these and other streets are often unable to park near their home and have to search for a space elsewhere and then walk back home sometimes with heavy bags of shopping.

After researching the issue it is however clear that the Department for Regional Development plan to introduce Residents Parking Schemes in five inner city areas of Belfast. I have therefore written to the new Regional Development Minister requesting that he includes Holywood within the list of initial Residents Parking Schemes.

Consultation should commence straight away with people living in the relevant areas across Holywood concerning whether they want their street designated as a Controlled Parking Zone which would require the display of a permit.

I have also requested that the permit should be available at a low cost and free of charge for those on low incomes rather than costing a scandalous £80 per year, as previously suggested by the Department.

Whilst keen to ensure that the needs of local residents are met, I am also eager to ensure adequate car parking provision in Holywood Town Centre for businesses, workers and visitors alike. I have therefore again contacted the Roads Service requesting a copy of their long awaited report concerning Parking in Holywood Town Centre.

This report should hopefully outline current provision and future requirements which need to be addressed to support a prosperous bustling Town Centre. Upon receipt I will actively campaign for action to ensure Holywood remains the ultimate destination for businesses and visitors alike.