Monthly Archives: May 2014

Alliance welcomes speed limit changes

Downshire East

Downshire East

The Roads Service has announced that the national speed limit currently in place along the Hillhall Road, the Ballylesson Road and Purdysburn Hill will be reduced to 50mph in the near future.

Alliance Downshire East candidate Aaron McIntyre welcomed the decision “The Lagan Valley Alliance team have been working with constituents along this stretch of road for a number of years, and it is fantastic that the Roads Service have decided to reduce the speed limit from 60 to 50mph. If properly enforced this change should reduce the number of accidents along these main roads which form the main route between the Lisburn and Castlereagh sections of the new super council. It will also make it safer for vehicles using the roads which connect to the route, especially at the Ballyaghlis junction, which can be extremely dangerous at busy times due to excessive speeding by some.

Although the Lagan Valley Alliance team welcome the speed limit reduction, we would like to stress to the Roads Service that improvements to the roads themselves should be considered in the long term and we will continue to liaise with them in regards to the changes outlined previously.”


Owen Gawith, Alliance candidate for Downshire West, says:
“It is great to see the Balmoral Show again at the Maze, following the success of the event last year.  Sadly this is the only positive achievement to report at the Maze Site, after many years of political wrangling and a considerable amount of waste of public money.”

In answer to an Assembly question from Trevor Lunn, OFMDFM confirmed that £974,000 has been spent on the conflict transformation centre.  This figure includes EU and Heritage Lottery funding which had to be refunded after the plans were pulled.  Everyone agrees that the Maze site has enormous potential for inward investment and badly needed jobs but the project has continually been blighted by political disagreement, firstly over the proposed Stadium and then the Peace Centre.  Similar political disagreement has blighted the John Lewis development at nearby Sprucefield.

Owen adds:  “I hope that potential investors will not be put off and the example set by the RUAS will encourage others to follow their lead and establish on this prime site. Northern Ireland has so much to offer, as evidenced by the recent job announcements and the success of events such as the Giro D’Italia  and the World Police and Fire Games (which was originally to be held at the newly built Maze Stadium).  With the right political leadership the Maze site can play its part in the future economic development of Northern Ireland.”

(i) In 2013/14 the Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation (MLK DC) was allocated a budget of £7.3m from our Department. £974k has been spent on the Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Centre project primarily made up of EU funding and Heritage Lottery funding. £540k EU funding which had been drawn down has since been repaid.
(ii) As a result of the full regeneration project not being pursued at present, the remaining Departmental budget the MLK Development Corporation had for 2013/14 was £3.4m.
(iii) Unspent funding for 2013/14 is not carried forward to the 2014/15 allocation.
(iv) Our Department surrendered £3.5m to the Department of Finance and Personnel in 2013/14 for their reallocation. The remainder was reallocated within this Department.
Please note, rounding applies to all the figures cited above.

Modernisation of driving laws – Alliance’s McCrea

Alliance Representative for Killultagh

Alliance Representative for Killultagh

The Lagan Valley Alliance Party team has welcomed news that driving laws are to radically change in Northern Ireland, with plans expected to come into effect early next year.

The announcement made by Environment Minister Mark H Durkin will see the drink drive limit reduced by almost 40 percent, new drivers restricted for two years and a mandatory learning period of 12 months introduced.

Dr Jonathan McCrea, Alliance Party representative for Killultagh, said: “This is a major step, long overdue, to improve driving standards and road safety. The current alcohol limit is 80mg/100ml, but will be reduced to 50mg for most drivers and 20mg for newly qualified and professional drivers.

“Additional measures include: restrictions on the number of young passengers a newly qualified driver can carry. The 45mph speed limit will be removed, as has been the case in GB for decades, and learners will be taught to drive on motorways when accompanied by an Approved Driving Instructor in a dual-controlled car. There will also be a 12 month mandatory minimum learning period.

“I passed my driving test first time, a mere two months after turning 17. It felt great, but honestly, it was dangerous. Drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 are responsible for around 40 percent of fatal collisions. Everything which can be done should be done to protect these young lives. Life is too precious.”

Over 50 buildings of historic and architectural importance demolished in Lisburn

Downshire East

Downshire East

In 1969 the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society published a list of historic buildings, groups of buildings and areas of architectural importance, highlighting the need to conserve our built heritage in Lisburn. Since its publication over 50 of those identified on the list have been demolished including the notable example of the old Lisburn Courthouse.

Alliance Downshire East candidate Aaron McIntyre commented “This figure is shocking. Lisburn has a long and varied history that is, at least in part, expressed through our built heritage. The Lisburn Historic Quarter and the regeneration of Bridge Street represents the positive steps the council and funding bodies have taken to preserve our history, but more needs to be done. I welcome the announcement of planning permission for the redevelopment of the derelict site on Castle Street, however, the plans should be sympathetic to the surrounding historic street-scape. Unfortunately, these building were no longer structurally safe and had to be demolished, but nevertheless I would press developers and planners to retain as much of the original structure as possible when non-listed historic buildings are redeveloped.

A recent survey carried out in June 2012 by the Department of the Environment and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency has demonstrated that our built heritage has economic benefits including increasing footfall by attracting visitors and creating jobs. However, it is not just economically that we can benefit through our historic buildings and spaces, but also socially. Our built heritage can add to our sense of identity and place, generating civic pride and well-being.

Lisburn’s built heritage is a unique asset and is something to be proud of. I would stress the need for a diverse response to its management that will not only see benefits in our society today, but which will preserve what remains of Lisburn’s historic fabric for future generations.”

School Governor recruitment drive

Alliance Councillor Stephen Martin has criticised the Department of Education for the backlog in processing School Governor applications.

Councillor Martin secured support at Tuesday’s Council meeting that Lisburn City Council write to Minister John O’Dowd to ask for clarity as to why so many appointments have remained pending some for over three years.

Councillor Martin commented ‘The Department is again publicising their current School Governor recruitment drive.  I would encourage anyone with an interest to get involved as a governor and to make a difference in their local community by sharing their expertise at local school level.’

‘What concerns me is that the Department are painfully slow at progressing the applications at present.  It would be shameful to seek new recruits only to let their eagerness to serve become a lost opportunity through bureaucratic inaction.’

‘I am pleased the Council noted that this is becoming a particularly serious issue for some schools where if vacancies continue to arise with being filled we run the risk of worrying issues of governance coming to light.’

Permanent Library for Moira

Owen Gawith Alliance representative for Downshire West

Owen Gawith Alliance representative for Downshire West

Alliance candidate for Downshire West, Owen Gawith welcomes the recent granting of planning permission for a permanent library in Moira.

Mr Gawith commented “Moira has grown substantially in the last decade, and the library staff have made great efforts to offer the best service to an increasing population whilst being hampered by having to operate in what is effectively a glorified static caravan.

A proper building will allow them to expand and improve upon the current status, and is excellent news for all of us. I look forward to funds being released for the building, and work commencing as soon as possible.”


Amanda Grehan Lisburn South Alliance representative

Amanda Grehan
Lisburn South Alliance representative

On behalf of blind pedestrians in Lisburn, Amanda Grehan, candidate for Alliance in Lisburn South is continuing to press Lisburn City Council on the question of kerb heights in Market Square, which are currently to be set at 30mm. This height is not enough to be identified by a guide dog, presenting obvious problems for blind and partially sighted persons.

According to Amanda, “Roads Service originally wanted no height difference between the roadway and footpaths in the square, but following discussion, agreed to set this at 30mm.  Experts in this field agree that a minimum of 60mm is essential for blind pedestrians and their guide dogs to recognise the difference between the pavement and the roadway.  Colour coding has also been suggested, but it is not a workable solution as guide dogs are not trained to recognise colour change as a hazard and, obviously, this would not help a blind person.”

Amanda has undertaken to continue further discussions with Roads Service to seek a workable solution as soon as possible.

Value your vote!

Cllr Stephen Martin

Cllr Stephen Martin
Lisburn North
07706 526036

Alliance Councillor Stephen Martin has urged those who have not yet registered to vote to do so.

Stephen, candidate for Lisburn North, commented:  “The first thing to remember about the elections coming up in May is that your vote really does matter, so please ensure you are registered.  The deadline for late registration with the Electoral Office is 6 May.

“For far too many years in Northern Ireland people have voted according to the past.  They have voted to revenge past wrongs, to do down others who once did them down.  They have voted according to the allegiances of their parents and grand-parents, allegiances that were formed in a totally different world.’

“Since the Good Friday Agreement that world has changed and has the potential to change much, much more.  But it will require more people to vote with their eyes firmly fixed on the future, not solely on the past.  It will require people to think about the future they want for their children and grand-children and vote for people whom they
believe will bring about that better future.”

Stephen urges everyone to step forward and “Vote for the future you want  for your children, not the past of your parents.”


Reduce traffic injuries to children in built-up areas.

Downshire East

Downshire East

Speeding in built up areas is a problem across the Lisburn district and particularly in Hillhall, where a group of residents have previously campaigned for speed ramps to be put in place along Hillhall Gardens. Unfortunately the Roads Service stated that Hillhall did not meet the necessary criteria for speed ramps, and some vehicles find speed ramps difficult to manoeuvre over.

Alliance Downshire East representative Aaron McIntyre commented “I believe that if enough local people were supportive, it would be sensible to try reducing the speed limit in built up and residential areas in the Lisburn district, such as Hillhall, for a trial period.  If the accident results improved, then this would send a clear message to Stormont to introduce the necessary legislation to make 20mph speed limits the norm in built up areas across Northern Ireland.”

Extensive research has proven that reducing the speed limit to 20mph in built up areas  improves road safety for all users and NI Direct state that a child hit by a vehicle travelling at 20 mph has a 90 per cent chance of survival, compared to 50% chance at 30mph, and only 10% at 40mph.  A recent survey by the road safety charity Brake and Allianz Insurance in the UK has shown that over 80% of the public support a reduction from 30mph to 20mph in residential areas and town centres.