Sale of Cultra Station House almost complete

Sketching of Cultra Station House by Cllr Larry Thompson
Cultra Station House in current state
Councillor Larry Thompson has welcomed news that the sale of Cultra Railway Station House has entered the final stages, with the historic listed building set to be refurbished and saved for future generations.

The North Down Councillor has been a vocal campaigner in the fight to save the local landmark and says he now looks forward to working with the purchaser to ensure plans for the refurbishment respect its listed status.

The building is currently owned by Ireland’s ‘bad bank’ NAMA and in recent years has fallen into disrepair, now being on sale for a fraction of its original value.

Councillor Larry Thompson said: “After a concerted campaign to Save Cultra Railway Station House I am delighted to report that contract has been signed, deposit paid and sale almost complete. With everything due to be finalised by Christmas many people are delighted to hear about this early Christmas Present for everyone across Holywood and beyond”

Continuing, Cllr Thompson remarked “I am particularly grateful to NI Environment Agency, Holywood Conservation Group, Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, Dominic Hannigan TD and the many other interested people and groups who helped bring the Save Cultra Station House campaign to this stage. Cultra Station House was designed by renowned architect Charles Lanyon, built in circa 1863 and listed in 2007 when threatened with demolition.”

He added: “With sale almost complete I look forward to working with the purchaser to ensure new plans for residential use respect the historic listed status of the Railway Station House.”

Readers can keep up to date with the refurbishment of the station house by visiting Save Cultra Station House Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SaveCultraStationHouse.

Cultra Station House is currently owned by Ireland's 'bad bank' NAMA. The old disused Railway building has fallen into disrepair in recent years and is now on sale for a fraction of its original value. Purchaser plans to restore the building using it as a residential site.

Muir encourages public to report Kinnegar sewage pollution pong

Cllr Muir at Kinnegar Lagoons attached          
I am continuing my campaign to end the sewage pollution problem in Holywood after recently meeting NI Water officials to discuss lack of progress to end the awful smell endured by many for several years.

I am also calling upon residents to report when the smell is particularly bad in order to establish areas affected and if problem relates to tidal times, heavy rainfall or the nearby waste water treatment plant.

I have been campaigning on this issue since becoming a Councillor over two years ago and am determined to see the issue resolved. After securing over £3m funding to fix the problem I have now been assured by NI Water that work has taken place to investigate exact cause and potential solutions.

Construction work is due to commence next year in two phases. Phase One will involve a new set-up to stop further pollution of the Kinnegar lagoons which are now heavily polluted with raw sewage. Phase Two will involve necessary remedial work to clean up the lagoons.

During my meeting I reiterated my profound disappointment that the problem remains unresolved outlining the high degree of interest shown by many including Janez Poto─Źnik, European Commissioner for the Environment. Holywood residents, workers and visitors shouldn't have to endure this smell any longer. Our environment should be protected and enhanced not destroyed and abused.

Whilst samples have been taken to ascertain source of the terrible smell NI Water remain unsure of the exact cause and if external factors are causing the problem such as tidal times, heavy rainfall or the nearby waste water treatment plant. I would therefore encourage local residents to report to me when they experience particularly bad sewage smells. Residents should email mail@andrewmuir.net when the smell is especially bad detailing time and date and location. Information gathered will then be passed onto NI Water in early 2013 to facilitate final design of the solution urgently required and sought by many.

Alliance calls for Chewing Gum Tax

The Alliance Party has urged the Minister for the Environment Alex Attwood MLA to consider the introduction of a Chewing Gum Tax to help cover the cost of removal of the sticky substance from pavements across Northern Ireland.
The Party has made their call for a Chewing Gum Tax after conducting research which indicates that removal costs in Bangor Town Centre could be £16,000 p/a with Holywood Town Centre clean-up costs in the region of £6,000 p/a. No clean-up is currently taking place due to the high costs incurred.
Commenting on the issue, Alliance Environment Spokesperson Anna Lo MLA stated "Chewing Gum is rightly seen as a scourge for Town Centre's across Northern Ireland. Many Town Centre's have recently been revitalised through new pavements and street furniture but are now fast being destroyed due to chewing gum and other litter which degrades the beautiful surfaces just laid.
Whilst we can debate whether funding should go towards prevention or clean-up it is clear that concerted action is needed to tackle this sticky problem. The voluntary regulation regime needs tightened up without delay whilst consideration is given concerning whether a Chewing Gum Tax is practical and necessary. No longer should Northern Ireland be denied a voice at the Chewing Gum Action Group. Valuable lessons can also be learnt concerning how Ireland have approached the issue".
Commenting on the tax raising implications, Alliance MP Naomi Long stated "After thoroughly researching the matter it remains unclear whether Northern Ireland Assembly would have the power to raise a specific levy on Chewing Gum products to cover prevention and clean-up costs. I have therefore tabled a question to HM Treasury in an effort to establish if any legal basis exists for a tax and, if not, whether Northern Ireland can be offered a place at the Action Group table".
Concluding, North Down Alliance Councillor Andrew Muir stated "With clean-up costs in North Down potentially in the region of £22,000 each year and both Bangor and Holywood Town Centre's due to receive new pavements and public realm schemes in the near future I am most concerned that Northern Ireland lacks the necessary powers to tackle this problem.
With North Down Borough Council facing the prospect of having to pass on the £22,000 clean-up costs to the rate payers once each Town Centre is spruced up action is urgently required. No longer should chewing gum companies be able to cream a nice profit each year whilst rate payers suffer the financial burden of removal.
I welcome the support offered from the Association of Town Centre Managers toward some form of tax on gum to help fund a clean-up and look forward to hearing the views of Minister Attwood on the issue."