STRANGFORD MP Jim Shannon has welcomed progress by DRD Minister Conor Murphy in trying to solve Ballynahinch’s traffic problems while speaking at a special dinner for Ballynahinch traders held in the Millbrook Lodge Hotel in the town.
Ballynahinch traders and residents, and anyone who travels through the town on a daily basis, would agree that something needs to be done about the roads system which constantly suffers from traffic jams and at best from a slow moving flow. A much needed bypass has been called on for a considerable number of years but has not succeeded if achieving enough forward political and departmental momentum to become a reality.
Currently DRD Minister Conor Murphy is seriously looking at the need for the improvements of traffic flow in Ballynahinch. A statement from a DRD spokesperson clarifying where the development is actually at, said, “The Department’s Investment Delivery Plan for Roads, published in 2008 includes the A24 Ballynahinch Bypass proposal where it is listed in the ‘Preparation Pool’ of high priority schemes to be developed and taken through the Statutory Procedures in advance of funding being confirmed.
“Work is currently in hand towards recommending a Preferred Line for the scheme in a corridor on the eastern outskirts of the town extending form the junction of the A21 Saintfield Road to the junction of the B2 Downpatrick Road. This work is progressing, taking account of responses received at an initial public consultation event held in the town in November 2009 which included representations requesting the provision of a junction with the B7 Crossgar Road. Completion of this stage of the work, including the preparation of a report recommending a preferred Line for the scheme is expected in later this year.
“Following this, further work, including detailed engineering, environmental and economic assessments, is required to develop the scheme in preparation for progressing the proposal through the Statutory Procedures. This includes the publication of an Environmental Statement along with a Notice of Intention to make a Directive Order and a Notice of Intention to make a Vesting Order.
“Given the nature and scale of the scheme, objections to the proposal may be expected and it is therefore likely that a Public Inquiry will be required to determine if the scheme should go ahead as planned.”
Speaking at a special dinner at the Millbrook Lodge Hotel for the Ballynahinch Traders, DUP Strangford MP Jim Shannon said,”Since the Ballynahinch DUP advice office was opened, I have been inundated with issues – but the most pressing was also the most obvious – the re-generation of the town.
“I contacted all of the political parties -political difference is not an issue – it is how we can work together to make life better and realise the potential that is there. I was approached by traders – some of whom are here tonight – and asked what I intended to practically do. My answer was – what do you need me to do. I have met with the Minister for Regional Development and have had some results such as the commitment to the new by-pass that the town has been waiting on for over 50 years.
“The Minister responded at the meeting stating that the final proposals for the road that will include a bridge over the river and a roundabout at the Newcastle side of town and will cost approx £15 million to construct are starting to take shape. There will be a report finalised for June 2011 which will state the environmental impact, acquisition of land and if necessary a public inquiry, of course should there not be a public inquiry the time until completion will be a lot shorter. The Minister stated that the Ballynahinch by-pass is a priority for DRD and looking towards 2015-2016 for it to be completed.
“The sewage works for Ballynahinch are to be upgraded in April 2011 and it cannot come too soon as a number of projects in the town are in the pipeline so to speak.
“I have also sought to address the issue of car parking which this has been a problem for the town of Ballynahinch for some time. The minister agreed to a reduction of charges for the Windmill Car park – what did cost 30p per hour will now be charged at the same price for 3 hours. The minister however said that this would require a change in legislation that would begin in June 2011.
“This is an exciting time for Ballynahinch and these have certainly reinforced the regeneration programme that will bring jobs, opportunity and more economic life to the town. This beautiful hotel this evening typifies what hard work and desire can achieve. The hotel has been a family run business for 30 years and with all of the work that has went into the refurbishment of the hotel recently there is a freshness and newness that cannot be but appealing.
“The management desire to build community relations with special deals for local traders and other offers to attract people to the hotel – this is something which must be replicated in Ballynahinch. The town must be freshened up with new life and verve, offers publicised to induce shoppers – and we must all work together to see it happen.
“My thanks again to the hotel management for hosting this evening to meet in such lovely surrounding in order to network and discover how exactly we can all help the town to reach its potential,” Mr Shannon added.