Friday, 28 October 2016

Future for Cairn Wood looking brighter

Cllr Muir with Jock 
The long term future for Cairn Wood and Ballysallagh Upper Reservoir and Forest was now looking brighter, after Ards and North Down Borough Council agreed to look at options for the management of the area.

Cairn Wood and Ballysallagh Reservoir are fantastic natural resources that should always be available for the people of this borough, and others, to enjoy. The strength of public interest was clearly shown when the petition campaign I led resulted in it being taken off the market for sale and retained in public ownership under the Forest Service.

I am greatly encouraged that Cairn Wood has a bright future, now that Council has agreed to explore the options for a joint management arrangement with the Forest Service, including a partnership approach.

Clearly Cairn Wood has much to offer the Borough in terms of economic and social benefits. For that reason it is important that all users, especially groups who have been active in securing it in public ownership and others such as Anglers using the Reservoir, are fully involved in the discussions that will lead to development of the plan for its future. Through involving a wide range of interests we will maximise the opportunities for this beautiful area. I was disappointed a small number of DUP and Ulster Unionist Councillors voted against this vital next step but will continue to campaign until we finally secure the long term future of Cairn Wood.

Serious concerns over closure of Bangor custody suite - Muir

The news that Bangor Custody Suite is to close from 1 December raises serious concerns about the best use of police resources in this Borough with genuine worries police officers will be taken from their essential duties protecting the community to escort detainees to Musgrave Street in Belfast.

This has the potential to leave a major shortage of officers on the ground as they spend time travelling between Bangor and Belfast and potentially beyond with Musgrave Street already experiencing high levels of demand and certain times. 

We have already lost Ards Custody Suite and while we are told closure of Bangor Custody Suite is a temporary measure, elected representatives and local solicitors are rightly concerned that if this proposal is not challenged it could lead to closures of local police stations. An important aspect of policing is visibility to maintain public confidence. We need this facility to remain open and police officers to be available to serve the community. We intend to follow the matter up at all relevant levels to ensure this short sighted decision is reviewed.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Growing demand for allotments

I have been working to meet the growing demand across the Ards and North Down Council area for additional allotment provision. There is no doubt about the wide range of benefits an allotment can bring, both for an individual and the wider community. An individuals physical and mental wellbeing can be strengthened from being active in the fresh air, while having a supply of freshly grown fruit and vegetables helps reduce expenditure on weekly shopping bills. Allotments are a great place for people to meet, share ideas and help each other and so a real community spirit can be developed. 

I am pleased my campaign for greater allotment provision has been receiving increasing support both from Councillors and the wider community. Council officers have made good progress with their initial report. The next stage is to identify the level and areas of demand, identify suitable locations and how they could be funded, and the likely fees payable. This is an exciting time for an initiative that can bring great benefits to our area and community