Happy New Year for Cairn Wood

Following extensive consultation with users and other stakeholders Council has agreed in principle and subject to funding plus land transfer to Forest Service the Council will, via a Memorandum of Understanding, ensure that Cairn Wood continues to be available for the public to enjoy with plans being pursued to carry out further development of the facility working with the ‘Friends of Cairn Wood’ group and others to enhance the visitors experience.

Works undertaken will be done in close consultation with users and stakeholders respecting the sensitive nature of the site and are subject to funding plus receipt of relevant approvals. Improvements being considered include expansion of the Car Park on its existing site, improvement of signage, development of the path to Clandeboye Way plus the Cairngaver lookout, development of a wildlife meadow and a possible mountain bike trail and pump track in the separate cleared area.

Further details and consultation to follow when funding, approvals and handover plans enable matters to be progressed. I would like to commend everyone involved in the campaign to Save Cairn Wood for their determination and commitment to save this wonderful natural asset. Achievements to date are a positive testament to everyone involved who have proved that people power delivers.

Muir secures Council commitment to cleaner streets and get chewing gum problem unstuck!

Ards and North Down Council is to get tougher when it comes to removing chewing gum from pavements in popular areas across the borough.

At the latest Environment Committee meeting, steps to tackle the growing problem were outlined, after I previously requested various options be explored to get the problem 'unstuck'.

Chewing gum stuck to our streets is a growing problem and is becoming more and more noticeable at popular destinations across Ards and North Down following recent Public Realm works and new pavements laid. I'm delighted officers have taken my request seriously and provided substantial information on how we can take action against this horrible sight which is destroying the new granite pavements.

The Council's Environment Committee has agreed to consider including necessary financial resources for a chewing gum removal programme focused on the Public Realm works as part of the Rates setting process for 2018/19 and also include the issue as part of a new Litter Control Strategy, targeting hot spots and raising awareness.

We all have our part to play and while it is good to see the Council taking this issue seriously, prevention is always a better way. So I would appeal to all gum chewers to think before you discard used gum on the streets, but instead to always look for bins provided.

Muir secures Council support to get unstuck from gum

Hako Street Cleaning Machine purchased to
sweep and wash pavements but cannot
remove the chewing gum
I have secured the unanimous support of Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Environment Committee for his request that officers explore options and costs associated with a scheduled programme of gum removal from our new Public Realm pavements.

Whilst I welcome the investment of £70,000 in the new Hako street cleaning machine to sweep and wash our new Public Realm Pavements we urgently need a proper schedule of cleaning to remove the chewing gum that has appeared on the new pavements. We cannot be left to rely upon ad-hoc manual removal which is both time consuming, irregular and unreliable in terms of results.

After making such a significant investment in new Public Realm pavements it’s vital the Council gets unstuck from the current situation and finds ways to end the scourge of gum. I am therefore delighted that Councillors backed my motion and await the officers report on ways to address the matter.

Motion passed by Environment Committee on 6 September 2017: “That this Council requests that officers bring back a report on the options and associated costs associated with a scheduled programme of gum removal from new Public Realm pavements in relevant Towns across our Borough”. This is subject to ratification by Full Council on 27 September 2017.

Cultra Station renovations the rail thing, says Muir

Cultra Railway Station is on the express track back to life after significant renovations were unveiled for the first time last weekIt is 'fantastic' to see the much-loved location restored to its former glory. 

Photos of the newly restored Cultra Station House and associated properties look pretty amazing, bringing a once derelict building back to its former glory alongside a number of new high quality finish buildings on the adjoining site. It’s fantastic to see the  Station House ready for people to call home. I wish the eventual new home owners every success as they set out on what seems certain to be a express non-stop journey of railway nostalgia in modern surroundings

Since 2011, my colleague, former Councillor and now Chair of Holywood Conservation Group Larry Thompson, and I have worked hard to ensure rapidly deteriorating Cultra Station House didn't hit the buffers and was instead on the fast track to a full revival after being seized by NAMA. 

Cllr Andrew Muir and Mr Larry Thompson RIBA

Far too often we see historic buildings fall into a state of disrepair, but rather than let that happen to Cultra Station House, Alliance has consistently fought to see the arrival of a functioning site. That's now fully ready and promoting a positive sense of community spirit after many local people and organisations boarded the campaign, from Holywood Conservation Group to Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, a previous Environment Minister and even a Irish TD.

This is a success story. Cultra Station House has overcome health and safety concerns, the economic crash of 2011 and many other disappointments, to offer local people a truly wonderful place to live. I'm very proud to have been involved in this project from the start and would encourage everyone to look at what has been achieved.

Muir welcomes Greenway funding announcement

With Donaghadee to Newtownards Greenway
campaigner Louis O'Keefe
I welcome the recent announcement from Department for Infrastructure concerning funding for new Greenway from Comber to Newtownards.

As a passionate advocate for the Greenway plans for many years whilst also a keen runner and cyclist I feel that provision of Greenway routes have real potential to benefit residents and visitors alike providing sustainable transport solutions whilst also enabling us to lead more healthy lifestyles. The Comber Greenway and others across the British Isles are good examples of such whilst also helping boost the trade of local businesses.

Cycling along the North Down Coastal Path

I am therefore delighted to learn that Department for Infrastructure have agreed to provide funds to bring plans for Comber to Newtownards Greenway to the next stage, providing a safe and convenient route to Belfast from Newtownards via the already popular Comber Greenway.
Whilst slightly disappointed that no funding has been allocated for the wider Ards and North Down Greenway running from Holywood to Bangor, Donaghadee, Newtownards and then to Comber plus upgrade of the Clandeboye Way I am confident of commitment of officers to this scheme and potential of other funders plus further tranches of funding from DfI to make these great plans a reality.

DfI Announcement at https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/news/ps75000-investment-new-greenways-announced

Muir welcomes plans for historic Holywood Building

I welcome plans recently submitted by Lacuna Developments to save the historic building at 1 Stewart’s Place in Holywood after campaigning the save the building for the last number of years particularly from July last year when the building partially collapsed causing closure of nearby busy Bangor Road.

Following the partial collapse in July last year I had great fears Holywood was again on the verge of losing a real jewel in our built heritage crown but following relentless efforts I am delighted to see plans submitted which will see the building restored to it's original glory.

New development planned
 Working alongside Holywood Conservation Group a brighter future has been secured for the building which rightly drew much ire from Holywood traders and residents alike as a result of the traffic chaos the road closure caused.

Through dogged determination to get the road re-opened and a real passion for saving our built heritage I am delighted to have played a part in saving this listed building and commend Lacuna Developments for the courage shown in taking on this building and pursuing plans which will hopefully turn this site into another great Holywood landmark. I look forward to working with the new developer and seeing this project through to completion.

Listed in the 1970s, the building is the other part of the ‘Stewart’s Place pair’ and forms part of the Holywood Conservation Area, but unfortunately the property has been on the Built Heritage at Risk Northern Ireland Register for a number of years. It’s other half, No 3 Stewart’s Place was restored by Hearth Housing Association in 1993.

Stewart’s Place is thought to have been built around 1840 by William Lowry, with numbers one and three forming a pair of three-storey stucco houses with rounded corners and were named after the first post-master of Holywood Hugh Stewart

Story at http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/historic-northern-ireland-pub-to-become-luxury-flats-in-2m-scheme-35871368.html 

The time for journeys has long since passed

The following letter appeared in the County Down Spectator on Thursday 22 June 2017

I write in relation to the recent erection of flags for illegal terrorist organisations such as UDA, UFF, UVF and Red Hand Commandos. Erected with seeming ease across North Down the flags now fly from lampposts across as our Borough providing a blatant challenge to the Rule of Law.

Like the overwhelming majority of law abiding citizens across North Down I am fed up seeing paramilitary  flags, insignia and murals erected and want them gone, for good along with all paramilitary organisations of whatever shade.

Over 22 years after the ceasefires these proscribed paramilitary organisations plus their Republican counterparts should have long since gone away but rather than packing up and standing down they have chosen to yet again mark out territory and remind us of their menacing presence with apparent impunity.

At times like this it incumbent for all in political life to speak about against this activity and call for the immediate removal of such, whether by those who erected the flags or by statutory agencies, with the support of the Police.

Thus far the DUP locally have been silent on the matter. Not one elected representative has called for removal despite repeated calls. I would therefore urge the DUP locally to break their silence on the matter and join me as an important first step in calling for the immediate removal of all paramilitary flags without equivocation or the usual reference concerning the need to give these organisations space to complete their journey. The time for journeys has long since passed. 

Muir thanks Alliance voters for support at General Election

Team Alliance at Election Count
Whilst concerned to see the further polarisation of politics I was delighted to see Alliance Party vote locally in North Down increase both in percentage terms and votes cast, compared to the last Westminster General Election.

The continued support from everyone who placed their trust in me and voted Alliance is greatly appreciated as we continue to strive for reconciliation in a shared, inclusive, open, welcoming society.

I would also like to congratulate Lady Sylvia Hermon upon her re-election as MP for North Down and wish her well as she works in the new Parliament as the only MP from Northern Ireland not aligned to the government and taking her seat whilst UK faces extremely challenging decisions ahead in relation to Brexit and other matters.

Congratulating Lady Sylvia Hermon upon
re-election as MP
My passion for positive, progressive and pro-European politics remains alongside Alliance desire for urgent restoration of devolved Assembly. We hope other parties join us in getting the devolved institutions up and running again without delay. Northern Ireland deserves better than current stalemate and party political bickering.

Use your vote positively

Councillor Muir and Alliance Party Leader
Naomi Long MLA
This election will be one of the most important for generations. The next government will have the vital task of ensuring the Brexit negotiations deliver the best possible deal for Northern Ireland and the UK generally

It is important voters recognise, and reject, the attempts by the DUP to bring the issue of a border poll into this election. This scaremongering is yet another desperate attempt to distract from the real issues, whether they be restoring devolution, creating jobs and protecting our Public Services.

As the Alliance candidate for North Down I offer a strong pro-EU view on what is best for Northern Ireland. We benefit greatly from our membership of the EU and there is real fear many businesses and farmers will be badly affected following Brexit.

On other issues, I strongly support an open, welcoming and inclusive society which treats all citizens equally and values contributions made by people from other countries who choose to live and work in Northern Ireland.

Royal Mail delivering Second Class service - Muir

I have hit out at Royal Mail for delivering a second class service for the people of Holywood after the removal of two Post Boxes in the area.

The Post Box at Station Road, Craigavad was removed in 2016 and has yet to be replaced with Royal Mail refusing to even meet to discuss the issue. A recent complaint raised by myself to the Postal Review Panel watchdog has also now been refused.

The Victorian Post Box at Seafront Road, Cultra was also decommissioned just before the Easter Holidays and is now painted black with the aperture closed and local people still waiting for a new box to the installed nearby.

Despite the strong support expressed by local people across Craigavad for the Post Box to be replaced via Petition Signatures and letters of support I am dumbfounded to learn that the Postal Review Panel are unwilling to intervene.

Their refusal to consider locating the box at the new location kindly offered by a local resident on the basis that any future owner may ask it to be moved lacks any logic with thousands of Post Boxes across the UK already on private land. Idea that people should travel back in time and visit the Folk Museum as the nearest location to post a letter is ludicrous.

Whilst profoundly disappointed I remain undeterred and will continue the campaign for the people of Craigavad to receive the First Class service they deserve. A reply is now awaited from Royal Mail after Ards and North Down Borough Council unanimously agreed to call upon the company to reinstate the box.

With regards to the Post Box at Seafront Road, Cultra, the front door of the historic Victorian Post Box at Seafront Road was removed shortly before the Easter Holidays by Royal Mail citing corrosion.

Sadly the corrosion is now considered beyond repair and, as a result, it has proven necessary to decommission the box, paint it black and close the aperture to prevent further usage. Whilst I am disappointed about the decision to abandon the traditional bright red look I can understand the decision taken.

I cannot however comprehend the length of delays being encountered to provide a replacement nearby. I will continue to lobby for speedy replacement in advance of the quoted timeline of 8 to 12 weeks and will not rest until a red box reappears.

In the running for election as Alliance North Down General Election Candidate

I am absolutely delighted to be selected to stand for Alliance in North Down in the upcoming Westminster election on June 8.

In little under six weeks, people across the United Kingdom face one of the most important elections of our time.

We must choose whether to continue along the road the Conservative Government, aided by the DUP, is determined to take us on, delivering the hardest of Brexits, with closed borders, polarised politics and economic uncertainty on the horizon.

I am seeking election in an effort to give the people of North Down the opportunity to signal a desire to change direction away from this destination by choosing an Alliance Party candidate firmly committed to an open, inclusive, prosperous and ambitious future within Europe.

With seemingly endless elections and on-going deadlock at Stormont I entirely understand the real sense of frustration felt by many. Never before have we seen such unprecedented events, casting aside the old certainties and norms.

I am however passionate in my belief that we can and must change direction to ensure the extremes don’t dictate our future. Only by voting for the positive progressive vision offered by Alliance can we strengthen the liberal centre ground and deliver a positive alternative to the divisive agenda of others.

I love North Down, am proud to call the place home and really looking forward to the campaign ahead.

North Down Alliance Councillor since 2010, previous North Down Westminster Candidate in 2015 and Mayor of North Down 2013/14 when undertook over 700 engagements under theme ‘Working as One’. Previously Alliance Party Chairperson and President, currently leader of Alliance Party group on Ards and North Down Borough Council. Outside politics, Andrew works as a Project Manager with Translink and is a keen runner, competing for North Down Athletics Club for a range of events including Belfast City Marathon on Monday 1 May 2017.

Muir slams news another Post Box lost in the mail

I am working hard to resolve yet another Post Box debacle Royal Mail after learning that yet another Post Box in the Holywood area has been removed but with promises it will be replaced nearby.

The front door of the historic Post Box at Seafront Road, Cultra was removed shortly before the Easter Holidays by Royal Mail citing corrosion with replacement plans rather unclear until local residents and Councillor Muir intervened.

Following on from the ongoing debacle concerning the removal of Post Box at Station Road, Craigavad I was appalled to learn from local residents just before the Easter break that yet another Post Box had been removed.

With the Post Box at Seafront Road a unique Victorian box which regularly attracts attention of passers-by, forming part of a listed building and also enjoying a good level of usage I have been working hard to resolve the situation.

Investigations have unearthed news that the door was removed due to corrosion and since it is now found to be beyond repair for continued usage a new plan secured.

The historic box will be restored to its original beauty but decommissioned for use and, in order to avoid any confusion, painted black as per arrangement which has already received stamp of approval from English Heritage.

A new post box for public use will also be located nearby, following receipt of necessary approvals from Transport NI.

With local people exasperated following recent events at Station Road I intend to monitor this issue carefully to ensure these commitments are fulfilled and Holywood gets the First Class service it deserves from Royal Mail.

Refurbished Cultra Station House timetabled to arrive on time

Cllr Muir and Larry Thompson RIBA at
refurbished Cultra Station House
I gained a sneak preview of the refurbishment work underway at old Cultra Station House last Friday 7 April 2017 visiting the building along with retired Alliance Councillor, Conservation Architect and Chair of Holywood Conservation Group Larry Thompson RIBA and am able to report significant progress with refurbishment works timetabled to complete by Summer 2017.

Dating back to 1897, Cultra Station House was listed in 2007 when threated with demolition but remained in an awful state of disrepair until recently. A Condition Survey commissioned in 2012 stated ‘it would likely prove more economically viable to demolish and rebuild the property’

After years of relentless lobbying I was delighted to see the building restored to its full glory. Whilst the campaign nearly hit the buffers on a number of occasions, whether due to bureaucratic officialdom from the Planning Service or attitude of the previous owners (Ireland’s bad bank NAMA) both Larry and I kept the project on track and are delighted to see the project come to fruition.

Careful restoration work undertaken has helped bring the building back to life with traditional exterior contrasted by impressive interiors to deliver two spacious units within the old Station House sensitively complimented by three additional units within the site. It will be fantastic to see people living in a building previously on the brink of demolition.

I am particularly grateful to NI Environment Agency, Holywood Conservation Group, Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, former TD Dominic Hannigan and the many other interested people and groups who helped ensure it was full steam ahead for the Save Cultra Station House campaign. Once complete it will be fantastic testament to fact that hard work and determination delivers.

Cultra Station House was built in 1897 assumed to be designed by G.P. Culverwell. The property was built in typical decorative red brick late Victorian fashion.

The property consists of a listed building partially two storey and partially single storey positioned to the side of the railway tracks at Cultra. The two storey portion of the property was originally living accommodation for the station master and the single storey portion was the area for waiting, ticket collection and other areas associated with a railway station.

Property has been a private dwelling since at least 1937 and in private ownership since 1957, vacated 1970s when it fell into disrepair, vandalised and used for anti-social behaviour.

Muir steps up campaign for Craigavad Post Box

I have stepped up his campaign to secure a replacement post box for residents of Station Road, Craigavad.

The area has been missing a Post Box since a freak accident with a lorry damaged the original box beyond repair – yet Royal Mail has to date refused to replace it, despite many petition signatures and letters of support from local residents.

Ards and North Down Borough Council will now formally write to Royal Mail, requesting they reconsider that decision, after Councillor Muir’s campaign was backed unanimously at the recent Council meeting.

“What might seem like a trivial issue to some is causing great inconvenience for many residents, who are being forced to travel further to access the same service through no fault of their own.

Whilst Royal Mail have consistently dug their feet in and refused to listen to the concerns of local residents, I’ve continued to push on their behalf and I’m delighted to now have the full backing of my Council colleagues.

We should never underestimate the changes that we can make and I look forward to hearing Royal Mail’s formal response plus the Postal Review Panel who I have also written to asking for their support.

Muir welcomes re-opening of Bangor Road, Holywood

I welcome the re-opening of Bangor Road, Holywood after the long running 1 Stewart’s Place listed building saga since it partially collapsed in July last year resulting in then full and then partial closure of the busy Bangor Road.

I am very pleased my persistence and perseverance has finally delivered results for Holywood residents, traders and visitors alike with Bangor Road, Holywood now fully re-opened and 1 Stewart's Place listed building secured and ready for restoration works.

Since the partial collapse in July 2016 local businesses, residents and visitors had to endure great inconvenience whilst the building was disgracefully left to deteriorate. Throughout this period I have been relentlessly campaigning for a prompt solution, pushing the Council and other statutory agencies to intervene whilst also pressurising the previous owners to act. Thankfully the new owner has been swift in their response with the building now fully secured and road re-opened only weeks after they purchased the building. I look forward to meeting them in the weeks ahead to discuss developments and the hopefully much brighter future ahead for this historic building.”

Listed in the 1970s, the building is the other part of the ‘Stewart’s Place pair’ and forms part of the Holywood Conservation Area, but unfortunately the property has been on the Built Heritage at Risk Northern Ireland Register for a number of years. It’s other half, No 3 Stewart’s Place was restored by Hearth Housing Association in 1993.

Stewart’s Place is thought to have been built around 1840 by William Lowry, with numbers one and three forming a pair of three-storey stucco houses with rounded corners and were named after the first post-master of Holywood Hugh Stewart.

Let's change our politics for good on 2 March

Councillor Muir and Dr Stephen Farry
 2 March voters will go to the polls for the Northern Ireland Assembly Election following the collapse of the DUP / Sinn Fein Executive only months after promising a ‘Fresh Start’.

I am looking forward to voting Alliance for my friend, colleague and Party Deputy Leader Dr Stephen Farry who is the Alliance Party candidate in North Down.

I hope people will do likewise choosing hope over fear, grasping the opportunity to change our politics for good towards a more progressive and liberal future for everyone.

After only recently commencing my new job I am not on the ticket this time but have been working hard to secure re-election of Stephen and continuing to work with the same passion and vigour as local Councillor for Holywood & Clandeboye and Alliance Party Group Leader on Ards & North Down Borough Council.

A strong Alliance vote and the re-election of Dr Stephen Farry is vital if we are to secure a new Assembly which heralds change, for good. Without a strong commitment to respect, equality, reconciliation, partnership working and reform of the Petition of Concern veto which has blocked many measures public confidence in the Assembly risks falling even further. Only by voting Farry 1 will we help ensure and end to dogma, deadlock and sickening bigotry espoused for far too long.

Commenting on the issue, Stephen Farry remarked: “Our politics is badly broken, with an absence of openness and accountability, cronyism and corruption, deadlock and missed opportunities. The Renewable Heat Initiative crystallised these problems, but they run much deeper. This is bigger than problems with the DUP and Sinn Fein partnership, it is a weakness of Orange and Green politics.

Muir returns Craigavad Post Box stalemate to sender

Cllr Muir at previous site of Post Box
I am planning to return the Craigavad Post Box stalemate to the sender by submitting a Motion seeking Council support for my campaign to get Royal Mail reinstate the popular Post Box at Station Road, Craigavad.

Craigavad has been without a Post Box for the last few months after a freak accident which saw a lorry collide with the red box. Since then many people have signed the petition I initiated and forwarded numerous letters of support but to no avail with Royal Mail remaining intransigent and refusing to replace the popular facility despite the kind offer by a local resident to accommodate a new replacement Post Box on their Station Road property near where the box was originally located.

Royal Mail’s recent announcement of plans to install 300 new boxes across Northern Ireland merely added insult to injury and confirmation of a ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ strategy with Craigavad left to suffer whilst others get a brand new red boxes.  Suggestion that local people now travel back in time to the Ulster Folk Museum to post a letter is frankly ludicrous.  

With Royal Mail unwilling to meet to discuss the issue I am determined to break the stalemate and have therefore lodged a Motion for discussion at Ards and North Down Borough Council, calling upon the Council to write to Royal Mail requesting replacement of the Post Box. I hope all other Councillors will be able to give my motion the stamp of approval, Royal Mail reconsiders their stance and gives the people of Craigavad the First Class service they deserve.

Foundations laid for historic gatelodge’s refurb

Councillor Muir at Craigowen Lodge
warmly welcome news the Historic Gate Lodge beside the busy A2 Bangor to Belfast Road at Seahill has been formally purchased by a Housing Association with restoration soon to commence.

I have been campaigning to save the building for the last number of years since it fell into disrepair after being previously vested by the Roads Service as part of a previous road upgrade which never materialised.

After lobbying the Roads and Housing Ministers for the last number of years to save this listed building I am delighted to learn that Clanmill Housing Association's Hearth Heritage Division have now purchased Craigowen Lodge with plans to restore the building now forming part of their 2017/18 Programme.

With Planning Permission already in place finalisation of funding remains the only possible stumbling block plus any unforeseen statutory issues which I hope can be quickly addressed.

I have therefore written to the Finance Minister to ensure funding is provided and hope the year ahead will mark yet another Built Heritage success story to be enjoyed both by future residents and passing commuters.

Craigowen Lodge is a single storey listed building in Italianate style. Built in 1851 and designed by Thomas Turner, a previous pupil of architect Charles Lanyon.

Muir welcomes plans to save Stewart's Place Holywood

1 Stewart's Place in derelict state
Lacuna Developments has been confirmed as new owners of 1 Stewart's Place, Holywood who have described the building as a "key gateway to the seaside town's High Street" and committed to works to get the road re-opened and building secured. The site acquired includes the former Old Priory Inn and 1 Stewart's Place, a listed building.

In response, I have welcomed the news. After relentlessly campaigning on this issue since structural problems started to appear in June last year I warmly welcome news the new owners plan to take prompt action to get the road re-opened and hopefully save the historic building which is perilously close to collapse after years of neglect by the previous owner.  
I have already made contact with the new owners and hope to meet with them in the weeks ahead along with representatives of Holywood Conservation Group to discuss the way forward. With a structural engineer from London with a conservation background, project architect, conservation architect and planning consultant already engaged and the new owners seemingly willing to make the necessary investment I am cautiously optimistic that Holywood traders will soon be able to get back to business following months of needless disruption which has also inconvenienced local residents and visitors alike.

A more hopeful future also seems at last be ahead for the listed building which ought to be in the same condition as its nearby twin Number 3 Stewart's Place which is in pristine condition following previous intervention when also at risk of downfall. Time will tell whether it can be saved.

Managing Director, Anthony Best has stated:

Progress at last for 1 Stewart's Place saga

1 Stewart's Place, Holywood
Ever since problems started to arise with the structural integrity of 1 Stewart’s Place in June last year I have been relentlessly campaigning for a prompt solution. Following partial collapse in July 2016 local businesses, residents and visitors have had to endure full and then partial closure of the busy Bangor Road, damaging trade and causing great inconvenience whilst building left to deteriorate and home to an infestation of rats which has caused misery for local householders.

I am therefore encouraged to learn that new owners of the building seem willing to engage to fix the historic building and get the road re-opened as soon as possible. This does however have to be tapered with previous experience which has been characterised by foot dragging and broken promises which has left many people rightly angry. 

Following my previous proposal that Council explore all options to get the road re-opened I was glad to see the Council’s Environment Committee recently receive a comprehensive report detailing a range of avenues available to get the issue sorted. Whilst seek to meet with the new owners I intend to follow up on this report and hopefully get deadlines for initiation of the various options to prevent any further drift. The time for action has long passed with deadlines vital to get things moving and new owner forced to sort what’s sadly fast become known as Holywood’s House from Hell.

Muir continues battle to end Stewart's Place saga

1 Stewart's Place, Holywood
I am continuing the battle to end the saga associated with 1 Stewart’s Place, Holywood which has remained in a perilous state of dereliction since July last year, resulting in the closure of the adjacent Bangor Road.

After successfully bringing my proposal to Council late last year requesting officers urgently bring back a report on options available for statutory intervention to enable full re-opening of Bangor Road further developments have occurred. I understand that the site has now been sold and specialists engaged by the new owners to examine how the building may by fixed with plans now due to the submitted which will result in the road being fully re-opened. Officers are also actively considering serving a notice requiring action to address the condition of the building within a specified period of time.

Whilst these developments are welcome I am not relenting and have also been pressurising Transport NI to exert their influence as the authority permitting partial closure of the road. A further report on the range of options available to Council will be tabled in the weeks ahead including hopefully the option to service an Urgent Works Notice which would involve Council directly intervening to fix the building and then billing the owner. Together via this wide range of actions I hope to see resolution of this disgraceful saga which has resulted in great inconvenience for local residents, visitors and detrimental impact upon local traders. Holywood has had enough and needs the road re-opened and building sorted without any more delay and buck passing.

Muir delighted Kinnegar sewage solution delivered

Councillor Muir at Kinnegar Lagoons
I welcome the completion of the works at Kinnegar designed to improve sewerage infrastructure in Holywood and eliminate notoriously pungent smell.

Work along the Belfast Road in Holywood was completed on December 15, with a combined sewer overflow diverted away from Kinnegar Lagoons and the new waste water pumping station becoming fully operational.

I first started this campaign nearly seven years ago in response to the awful stench of sewage affecting nearby residents and passing road and rail traffic but I am now hopeful the completed work will mean the frequency and severity of odours coming from the lagoons will be reduced dramatically. It has been a long journey to reach this point involving lobbying NI Water, respective Government Ministers and getting the EU Environment Commissioner involved but through hard work and dogged determination I managed to secure £4.5million funding and get the works undertaken.

I want to thank all the statutory agencies which have worked to secure this scheme and local people who endured the disruption whilst works occurred. As well as having a positive impact on the environment, local people will hope this move will bring them comfort. I expect this will provide the much-needed relief they deserve. Assurances have also been received that the Kinnegar Lagoons will be enabled to return to the original state following the disgraceful pollution which NI Water allowed to occur destroying the scenic habitat previously enjoyed by a wide range of wildlife.

NI Water updates below: