THE SDLP welcomed Social Development Minister Alex Attwood to Ballynahinch (Monday 21st March) to witness firsthand the need for the town to be regenerated.
Mr Attwood was accompanied by SDLP Leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie, Strangford Assembly candidate Councillor Joe Boyle, Ballynahinch Councillors Anne McAleenan and Patsy Toman, Rowallane representatives Councillor Maria McCarthy and Patricia McKay.
SDLP Strangford Assembly candidate Councillor Joe Boyle said,“It is time for the Department of Regional Development to do more to move things forward in relation to the roads network in Ballynahinch so that the town can be properly regenerated.
“I welcome that the minister has taken timeout to see firsthand the need for funding for the town to be given a makeover.
“The SDLP will campaign vigorously for Ballynahinch to become a priority case for an environmental improvement and streetscape projects like those carried out in Downpatrick, Newcastle and Kilkeel.
“A facelift of this kind would hugely help the local community, would revitalise local businesses and would make Ballynahinch more attractive to visitors from neighbouring towns and further afield.”
SDLP Leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said:, “When I was minister, I instructed officials to do an assessment of Ballynahinch and identify exactly what measures were required to revamp this busy town.
“These assessments revealed that a partnership approach is required to make this regeneration a reality, including work on access points by the Department of Regional Development and contributions from the council to improve shop fronts, as well as monies from the Townscape Heritage initiative.
“The SDLP are committed to this much-needed project and will continue to lobby whoever the ministers are in the new Executive to push for meaningful funding for Ballynahinch to stimulate economic activity and transform the area to become a more prosperous place to live, work and do business.”
SDLP Ballynahinch Councillor Anne McAleenan said. “For too many years, the regeneration of Ballynahinch has remained on the long finger and as a result residents, businesses and the entire image of the town have suffered.
“Ballynahinch is on its knees at the moment with an ever growing number of derelict buildings, poor street lighting and shabby uneven pavements.
“Having been born and raised in this town, it is greatly disheartening to see the area in such a terrible state having been starved of investment.
“The regeneration of the town would be the catalyst for increased business activity and would give Ballynahinch the boost it desperately craves to become the retail hub it once was.”