Ballynahinch Councillor and Rowallane district electoral area candidate Mickey Coogan standing as an Independent has called for the setting up of a community collective in Ballynahinch and across the Rowallene area.
Already moving ahead with the process, Cllr Coogan is requesting meetings with several constituted groups, schools, sporting clubs, cultural organisations and voluntary organisations in the town to discuss the formation of a Ballynahinch Community Collective.
Cllr Coogan explained: “Each group would retain its own identity while gaining the support of the whole town. It is crucial going in to the new Council that we have a collective position when applying for funding and services.
“I intend to discuss this with all sections of the commnity as I believe the best people to create and deliver a vision for the town are the people of the town. There are many groups working on various campaigns and projects and its important that we support these initatives.
“The Lough Park project has recently shown how an entire town can come out in support of a worthy local initiative. The War Memorial Commitee in the town are trying to raise funds and develop plans to improve the memorial which is right at the entrance to the town and they will require the same level of support.
“A community collective would have the ability to access large funding streams that Council can’t access and they can have a collective lobbying strength on acquiring improved services and resources for the town.”
Explaining that the new Ballynahinch forum could be set up quickly, he said: “The first item would be to set out our aims and objectives. I believe we could expand this further to form official alliances with established groups in other towns within the Rowallane area. Saintfield Development Association have had a number of recent successes and long established groups in Killyleagh, Crossgar and Darragh Cross could merge to form a Rowallane Community Collective. This would tie in very well with new powers and responsibilities of the new Council, who will have a responsibility to work with local communities to formulate area plans.”
A successful Downpatrick Community Collective recently held a celebration event in the Ballymote centre in Downpatrick attended but groups from around the County Town.