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Newcastle Councillors Address Issues At Meeting
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Newcastle Councillors’  Meeting in the Newcastle Centre on Friday 20 September

At the Newcastle meeting, local councillors Dessie Patterson, Eamonn O Neill,  O’Neill, Willie Clarke and Carmel O’Boyle discussed a number of issues relating to the Newcastle community.

Update on Traffic Flow at the Northern End of Main Street, Newcastle

Newcastle is to receive a cash boost for tourism from the DSD.

Newcastle councillors addressed key issues at a recent monthly meeting. 

Mr Reynold Nicholson, DRD Road Service’s Traffic and Network Development Manager, presented his proposals to the meeting.

He explained that from 1 April–31 August 2014,  drivers will have to respect the rules associated with the rectangular box that will be painted outside the Donard Hotel area of the street. This is the part of the street that causes a bottleneck when traffic enters Main Street and forces cars to merge into one lane.

Mr Nicholson added that it will be called a ‘loading bay’  but will mean that cars may only stop for a very short time to drop people off, or to pick them up. This new regime will allow traffic to continue in two lanes along Main Street. Then at all other times of year, outside of the tourist months, there will be restricted parking at this area. The disabled bay that is currently there will be moved to one of the taxi bays on the other side of the street.

Councillor Carmel O’Boyle said: “Subject to consultation on all of these suggestions, the new parking plan should be in place for 1 April 2014. It is a problem that has exercised our minds for too long and we need to set in place this compromise plan that will be continually reviewed.

“It has always been unacceptable that traffic turning onto Main Street is forced to merge into one lane in order to get past cars that are parked at this part of the street. I am sure that we will all look forward to a review of this new arrangement in order to see how traffic flow has improved and the impact of this no parking rule for five months of the year impacts on the businesses at the northern end  of the town.”

Cleansing of the beach in front of the Royal County Down

While Down District Council did propose a Service Level Agreement with the Royal County Down in relation to the cleansing of the beach leased by the golf club from the Crown Estates, they have decided to take legal advice in relation to this proposal. Councillor Carmel O’Boyle said: “It is unfortunate that Down District Council continues to receive criticism for the litter at this part of the beach in Newcastle.

“People need to understand that as this area has been leased by the Royal County Down from Crown Estates, it remains the responsibility  of the golf club to ensure that they keep this area clear of any litter that accumulates there. It is an area that impacts on the golf club and the hotel. Both places that are frequented by wealthy visitors, so I hope that the Royal County Down is mindful of the impression that an untidy beach will leave with their patrons. Our Council has already offered to enter into a Service Level Agreement with the golf club, and we are waiting to hear from them.”

Investigation into the ownership of some laneways in Newcastle

Councillor Carmel O’Boyle has asked Council officers to try to establish the ownership of some of the laneways in Newcastle in order that they can be properly cleaned, maintained and improved.

She said: “In particular, I am concerned about the laneway at Merrion Avenue and another laneway at the northern end of Main Street leading onto Donard Street. This one in particular is in a very bad condition and needs to be resurfaced and thoroughly cleaned. While Newcastle’s main thoroughfares look well and we are able to keep them clean and well maintained, there are a few that are falling far below the high standard of the rest of the town. So we need to identify the owners to discuss with them what needs to be done.”

Land located in the flood plain adjacent to Burren Meadow and Ballaghbeg Park

Councillor Willie Clarke has suggested that this land could be brought into community use if the Council makes an effort to acquire it from Apex Housing Association and the Housing Executive. Council officers have agreed to discuss the possibilities of this.

Also, Councillor C O’Boyle added: “As this land is not used, it would be well worth while investigating how this could be put into use for the communities living on the Castlewellan Road. All of the councillors present at Friday’s meeting agreed that they would support such an investigation.”