JIM Shannon, DUP MP for Strangford, has called for an urgent recommendation of the closure of Castlereagh Traffic Branch and the integration of its officers within the Armed Response Unit.
He said, “I have been made aware of changes with Traffic Branch that will mean relocation to Portadown and Steeple in Antrim. Following the removal of Traffic Branch from Ards, the move to Saintfield and their transfer to Castlereagh, we now find that the latest proposal will mean that Traffic Branch in the North Down, Ards and Down areas will be greatly reduced and indeed far removed.
“The statistics show that there are increased traffic incidents in the area and it is important that Traffic Branch presence in the Ards is maintained. Will the members of the ARU be trained to the level of Traffic Branch – a course, I understand, takes up to 6 weeks?
“There is also some concern that, as they are all part of the ARU, their first responsibility will be to incidents meaning that Traffic Branch will be secondary. The issue of Uniform is another critical factor, the boiler suit and baseball cap will replace high visibility uniform that Traffic Branch currently uses.
“I have written to Mr Clarke and spoken to him on the telephone and am urging for a quick rethink of these proposals, this change will dramatically impact upon this area of Ards and Strangford,” he added.