Room 279, Northern Ireland Assembly, Parliament Buildings, Ballymiscaw, Stormont, Belfast, BT4 3XX
Saturday, 27 February 2021
Room 279, Northern Ireland Assembly, Parliament Buildings, Ballymiscaw, Stormont, Belfast, BT4 3XX
Alliance North Down MLA Andrew Muir has called on people to think twice before visiting oversubscribed local beauty spots as the weather improves with the onset of spring.
Commenting on the issue Mr Muir said “I understand how difficult this third lockdown has been for everyone and how vital exercise is in terms of keeping us healthy both mentally and physically. However there are several local hotspots that tend to become inundated with visitors even under normal times and are now at risk of being completely swamped given increased attendance due to lockdown.”
“It is important that people take personal responsibility for their journeys and stay closer to home to exercise where possible. The sheer volume of visitors to these areas is making parking completely unmanageable, causing disruption for nearby residents and making social distancing almost impossible. We saw what happened last year with hundreds of people gathering at local beaches causing chaos, with even one police officer being attacked while trying to disperse crowds at Ballyholme.”
“I have reached out to the relevant authorities to check that sufficient preparations have been put in place to manage this in the run up to spring. We must be pro-active in terms of planning ahead to deal with this risk and also in reminding people that even when they are technically allowed to go somewhere under regulations, it doesn’t mean they should.”
Monday, 15 February 2021
Local Alliance representatives have called for definitive action from the Infrastructure Minister to do more to prevent further bridge collisions on the Ballysallagh Road, Craigantlet, following several incidents in recent years.
Commenting on the issue North Down Andrew Muir MLA stated, “This bridge in particular has seen many strikes over the years and being on a busy commuter route each time this occurs it causes severe disruption to the road network. I asked The Minister a formal Written Assembly Question around why her Department was unwilling to do more to prevent further incidents and was informed that they consider current signage and markings to be sufficient.”
“The Road was closed for several weeks following one particular strike by a heavy goods vehicle in late 2019 causing traffic chaos in the area and misery for local residents. It’s clear additional signage alone isn’t enough to stop this happening again.”
Alliance Councillor Gillian Greer stated, “It is glaringly obvious that unless further measures are put in place this will just keep happening time and time again. Luckily most incidents have only caused superficial damage but the risk of a serious road traffic collision is very real and the Department needs to step up before this is allowed to happen.”
Andrew Muir MLA (North Down)
To ask the Minister for Infrastructure why her Department is unwilling to consider further measures to reduce and inhibit bridge collisions on Ballysallagh Road, Craigantlet, following collisions in recent times.
NICHOLA MALLON MLA (Minister for Infrastructure)
Following a bridge strike in early 2018 my officials carried out a review which resulted in a series of additional signs being erected. This brings the total number of signs on the bridge and the approach roads to fifteen.
Officials have installed significant signage and markings on the approaches and on the bridge to alert drivers to its presence. I am advised this is sufficient and as such there are no plans for further measures at this time. There are limitations to what my Department can do and there is a responsibility on drivers of high vehicles who are expected to know their vehicle size and to plan their routes to avoid hazards such as low bridges.
North Down Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has asked the Minister for Infrastructure for an update on works to address the multitude of problems relating to the road surface adjacent to the new housing development at The Banks on Groomsport Road, Bangor.
Commenting on the issue he said “After receiving a number of residents’ complaints relating to noise and vibrations coming from the faulty road surface and maintenance hole cover on the road outside the development I was glad to see commissioning of a report with findings sent to the Roads Service and NI Water. The lack of progress in implementing the solutions needed is however greatly disappointing. Residents should not have to suffer this nightmare with local people unable to sleep due to noise and vibrations coming from faulty road surface when vehicles pass.
NI Water had confirmed the maintenance hole cover would be replaced and other remedial works carried out in the New Year but level of progress has been pitifully slow resulting in need for me to contact the Department for Infrastructure emergency out of hours service last Saturday in light of the serious road hazard caused to passing motorists by faulty maintenance hole cover.
I have tabled formal question to the Infrastructure Minister and urge her to swiftly bring this nightmare to an end without any more delay"
Thursday, 28 January 2021
North Down Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has called for long overdue remedial works to be carried out to the road surface entering the new Crawfordsburn Village Brow Development off Crawfordsburn Main Street after multiple requests to the developer to fix the situation.
Commenting on the issue Mr Muir said “I attended a site meeting last February with the developer to discuss this, and while I understand the pandemic may have hindered progress it is now almost a year later and still unresolved. The road surface is still very uneven with potholes and the footpaths also need to be finished to an appropriate standard.
It is the developer’s responsibility to see these works are fully completed and I have put in multiple requests to them to remedy this, most recently in January of this year after being told action would be taken prior to Christmas. I will continue to push for this to be resolved.”
Friday, 22 January 2021
North Down Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has called for the urgent roll out of more e-car charging points throughout North Down.
Currently there is a network of 337 public charge points across Northern Ireland and around 2,000 Ultra Low Emission vehicles on the roads. While electric and hybrid vehicles are more expensive to buy they have significantly lower running costs compared to petrol or diesel equivalents.
Commenting on the issue Mr Muir said “At the moment there are only five e-car charging points throughout the whole of North Down. In order to encourage people to buy electric and hybrid vehicles there needs to be a wide network of readily accessible charge points so they can feel confident they will be able to undertake longer journeys and not get caught out.”
“I am pleased to see Ards and North Down Borough Council have included a proposal for more e-car charging points in their Car Parking Strategy but we need swift action around this. With the current focus on active travel and sustainable transport many people will be re-thinking their transport options and now would be a great opportunity to make the transition to electric vehicle use an easier and more attractive choice.”
“Whilst I will be responding to the Council Parking Consultation welcoming plans and urging swift implementation the Department for Infrastructure must urgently lead efforts to increase eCar on street charge points across the whole of Northern Ireland ensuring North Down receives its fair share of new additional charge points without delay.”
Alliance Infrastructure spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has criticised the Department for Infrastructure (DFI) for handing back £1 million it has been unable to spend on road resurfacing projects.
At this week’s Infrastructure Committee meeting, officials from DFI told MLAs £1 million of capital money was being returned by the Department due to reduced capacity to deliver work on the ground while maintaining safe working conditions. The news was met with concern by committee members, who listed a series of projects awaiting funding across Northern Ireland.
“I have a list as long as my arm of roads that need resurfaced in North Down alone. Construction firms have worked hard since the early stages of the pandemic to make sure their operations are safe so work can continue,” said Mr Muir.
“It is hard to understand under these circumstances why the Department is handing money back that could be spent now on improving our infrastructure.
“The idea the Department can’t find ways to spend £1 million on capital projects within the next three months is further evidence procurement processes within DFI need updated. Contractors across Northern Ireland could get projects on the ground very quickly if the money was made available to them.”
Alliance North Down MLA Andrew Muir has voiced concern over the lack of financial support extended to local Sports Clubs in recent months.
“There has been significant confusion around support scheme eligibility criteria for Sports Clubs, many of whom have in house pubs and restaurants which generate a large proportion of their revenue and have had to close in line with recent restrictions.”
“The Department of Finance’s Localised Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS) has either provided little or no support despite being designed to help exactly the type of businesses in need of help such as bars and restaurants required to close.
The Sports Sustainability Fund was also made available to Clubs through the Department for Communities but does not appear to be providing sufficient funding to cover ongoing overhead costs and losses from lack of business over the past year.”
“There needs to be a clear and substantial move to support these organisations which are so important to our local communities. The schemes put out so far have let too many businesses fall through the cracks and I will be doing all I can to make sure they receive the funding so desperately needed to survive the pandemic working in conjunction with local clubs, representative bodies and the Assembly All Party Group on Sports and Physical Recreation”
|Bridge Road South, Helen’s Bay|
Alliance North Down MLA Andrew Muir has said he is disappointed by the Department for Infrastructure’s refusal to conduct a speed limit review along Bridge Road South in Helen’s Bay.
“I have been contacted by many people very concerned about the speed at which cars travel along this stretch of road. The national speed limit of 60mph is currently in place but given the entrance to Crawfordsburn Country Park is along the road it is often very busy with people walking to and from the Park as well as parked cars along the side of the road. This creates a lot of risk with cars passing pedestrians and push chairs at great speed.“
“The Department have cited the rural nature of the road along with the minimal frontage development as reasons not to consider the road for a speed limit review but this is neglecting the usage of the road to access the Park and really needs to reviewed this before any serious accidents occur.”
“I will be pursuing this further with the Department in the coming weeks. Traffic levels are currently below normal due to the current lockdown restrictions but I am keen this is given serious consideration moving forwards.”
North Down Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has expressed shock over the lack of parking enforcement in popular North Down day tripping areas after receiving figures from the Department for Infrastructure detailing the number of parking ticket notices issued in Seapark, Helen’s Bay and near Crawfordsburn Country Park.
“As a result of the much better weather earlier this year I was inundated with complaints from the public concerning parking issues across North Down. Many people mentioned the lack of enforcement of double yellow lines as a big cause for concern. During peak times busy spots become inundated with visitors and this can lead to problems with cars parked on double yellow lines causing obstructions to residents trying to access their homes and making it hard for those with a disability or parents pushing a pram to safely travel along the pavement, instead forcing them to walk on the road.
In light of this I asked the Minister for Infrastructure to detail the number of parking ticket notices issued in the past three years at Seapark in Holywood, Bridge Road South near Crawfordsburn Country Park and Church Road and Fort Road in Helen’s Bay. I was shocked to see Church Road in Helen’s Bay was the only location to have had some notices issued. Even where action occurred this was only during four months over the past three years.
The Department for Infrastructure must do better! Resources should be better managed with Parking Attendants deployed at problem hotspots when issues can be easily anticipated as the sun shines and people seek to visit popular locations to enjoy the weather. As we struggle through the dark nights of Winter it’s important to remember that brighter, warmer days are ahead with identical problems likely to occur at exactly the same locations over the Summer of 2021 unless the Department for Infrastructure gets it’s act into gear.”