Muir urges authorities to sort out No Cycling shambles

Photograph of signage erected by North Down Borough
Council outlining how pedestrians and cyclists should
share the path
Over the last few years substantial monies have been spent upgrading sections of the North Down Coastal Path to safely accommodate cyclists and pedestrians alike. Legislation hasn’t unfortunately been updated and it is still technically illegal to cycle on the path despite signage to the contrary outlining how pedestrians and cyclists should share the path.

The entire situation is a shambles and has been allowed to rumble on for far too long. 

The authorities responsible need to move up a gear and put the wheels in motion towards a speedy resolution. 

Every time I cycle on the path I fear that I may be branded a criminal due to the inaction of others.

A recent Assembly Question posed by another cycling supporter East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle exposed the fact that the matter has been stuck in bureaucracy since October last year. Two government departments and North Down Borough Council are responsible for resolving the situation with the Department for the Environment waiting on legal opinion”.

Muir urges progress to tackle Kinnegar Sewage Pollution

I am urging NI Water to progress their plans to tackle the sewage pollution problem at Kinnegar Lagoons, Holywood without any further delay after being contacted by numerous local people frustrated that the problem continues to cause an awful pong.

Since becoming a Councillor I have constantly pressurised NI Water to deal with the sewage problem at Kinnegar and was glad to achieve real progress with £100,000 spent to identify the cause of the problem during 2010 and approximately £3m earmarked in 2011 to implement a solution which will hopefully eliminate the problem. I am however increasingly frustrated that the required solution hasn’t yet been implemented. 

Party Conference 2012 - Why I am proud to be an Alliance Councillor

The Alliance Party held it's Annual Conference today (Saturday 21 April 2012) at La Mon Hotel, Castlereagh. It was an extremely busy, positive and enjoyable event at a new bigger venue.

I took part in a panel debate on Local Government entitled "
Delivering for the Whole Community" along with Cllr Christine Bower, Cllr Patrick Clarke, Cllr Deborah Girvan. 

Some of my remarks below in case you are interested.

Conference. It gives me great pleasure to speak to you today as an Alliance Councillor and Party Vice Chair.

Being a Councillor is a great privilege and I love it.  I have achieved a life time ambition and am extremely grateful to those who placed their trust in me.

Thompson welcomes action to save Historic Holywood listed building

1 Stewart's Place, Holywood
Advertising has now thankfully been
removed since photo taken
Holywood Alliance Councillor Larry Thompson has welcomed news from the Minister for the Environment that a formal warning letter has been sent to owners of 1 Stewart’s Place, Holywood outlining work that must be taken to safeguard the listed building. News was received from the Environment Minister in response to an Assembly Question from Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle. 1 Stewart’s Place was built in 1840 and is a listed building in the Town Centre on a street named after Holywood’s first Post Master.

Commenting the issue, Cllr Thompson stated “1 Stewart’s Place has been in an unacceptable state of disrepair for far too long and needs a wide range of work to bring it back to its former glory. Previous attempts by government to incentivise the owners to repair the building through Grant Aid have unfortunately been unsuccessful and now it seems that formal enforcement action may be necessary to ensure the building doesn’t fall into a worse state. It is highly regrettable that some property owners are unwilling to take action to save Holywood's Heritage even if offered money to help cover the cost of repairs.”

Alliance Party build North South relations at Oireachtas, Dublin

Pictured after a lively Sub-Committee meeting,
that rounded off a week of debate on the Fiscal Treaty are (L to R)
Roderic O'Gorman (Green Party), Sub-Committee Chairman
Dominic Hannigan TD, Cllr Andrew Muir (Alliance)
and Declan Ganley (Libertas)
I represented the Alliance Party at the Oireachtas last week as discussions continue concerning the EU Fiscal Treaty Referendum which will be held on 31 May 2012.

In advance of the Referendum the Irish Parliament has established a Sub Committee to consider the Treaty and host a debate about its implication for both Ireland and the EU.

The Committee heard from a range of people during the week including myself as Alliance Party Vice Chair on Thursday 5 April 2012.

Addressing the Committee, I stated "Since our formation in 1970 Alliance has been a pro-European and internationalist party and have always placed great store in the importance of strong North/South links and cooperation."

Muir delighted Holywood Police Station unlikely to close

Holywood Police Station
I am delighted that the Police Service of NI have reconsidered proposals to close Holywood Police Station.

Based upon recent reports it is understood that the Police do not intend to include Holywood Police Station within the list of stations marked for closure.

This does however require final approval by Chief Constable and NI Policing Board.

The Police Service of NI recently conducted a consultation concerning whether to close Holywood Police Station which culminated in a well-attended public meeting at Queens Leisure Complex, Holywood. 

Titanic Cycle Ride sell out success

Photo from County Down Spectator with North Down
Mayor Cllr James McKerrow before departing Holywood
Cyclists from across North Down are buoyed up after participating in the Yard Men Cycle Ride on Sunday 1 April 2012 when hundreds of cyclists used pedal power to converge at the new Titanic Belfast Visitor Attraction.

The spirit of Titanic was rekindled when cyclists travelled to the shipyard using the same mode of transport used in 1912, wearing flat caps and enjoying a well-earned piece upon arrival.

Organised by Sustrans for the Bicycle friendly Borough campaign and supported by both Friends of the Earth and Bikeworks Cycle Shop bicycles left Holywood just after noon and utilised the North Down Coastal Path to meet up with many others who had earlier walked from Pitt Park or cycled along the Comber Greenway from the Billy Neill Centre.

Muir comments on Redburn Primary School closure

I am extremely disappointed that the Education Minister  has decided to close Redburn Primary school which will shut its doors at the end of the June 2012. 

Rather than prioritising delivery of the new Holywood Schools project he has taken a short sighted approach and followed in the footsteps of the SEELB unelected Commisioners who first came up with the closure idea.

Redburn Primary School is a valuable part of the local community and will be missed. With the decision now made I hope Education authorities will explore opportunities for the school site to be used by the local community rather than being allowed to fall into disrepair. 

I have also written to the Education Minister to ascertain the status of Holywood’s long awaited new Schools Scheme. The scheme was previously designed to deliver new premises for Holywood Nursery, Holywood Primary, Priory Integrated College and Redburn Primary with Redburn and Holywood Primary Schools merging together on one new site.

Muir welcomes plans to improve safety at Victoria Road, Holywood

Area to receive Double Yellow Lines
Picture courtesy of Google Maps Street View
I welcome plans from the Road Service to extend double yellow lines at the Victoria Road, Bangor Road junction in Holywood.

After sustained lobbying I am glad that plans are afoot to improve Road Safety at this junction. Local residents have long complained about this dangerous bend which is often difficult to navigate when a large part of the road is taken up with parked cars.

Extension of the Double Yellow lines will hopefully reduce the risk of an accident by giving motorists a safer way to navigate the junction and clear lines of sight. The Road Service’s proposals were recently approved by North Down Borough Council and I hope will be implemented without delay.