SINCE 2007, Annette Holden has worked as the research officer and political assistant for John McCallister, UUP MLA for South Down. Although this is the first time for Annette in challenging for a place on Down District Council, she has already covered a vast array of work in the constituency in a wide variety of areas.
She said, “I have been much involved in writing speeches, researching, and acting as a political advisor for John, but most of my work has been is everyday issues that affect us all. For example I have been engaged in planning appeals and have had a number of excellent success in this. Also I have advised and represented people in employment and welfare and disability appeals, and in housing, and understand how these matters are very important to the quality of life to the individuals affected.
“While I have been working up at Stormont with John helping him in his political life, I have also at a local level in South Down been very busy at constituency level. Our office in Causeway Road in Newcastle has been the hub of much valuable work in the community. I have also been involved with people across Down and in the Downpatrick area in particular.”
“For most of my working life of 25 years in the public service sector I have been involved in a senior position and have a lot of experience to bring to the table as a future councillor.
“We are faced with many issues as the recession continues. I am particularly concerned about the issue of on-street parking in Downpatrick. What we need is a better traffic management system not the imposition of parking charges. There needs to be a proper management review of traffic in Downpatrick, and on-street parking charges are just tinkering with a more complex problem. We need to get this right.
“On-street parking if introduced will have a knock on affect to tourism, the profitability of local small businesses who are already struggling, and it will be an extra cost of people who are already finding it hard to make ends meet.”
Annette is also fully supportive of ensuring that the frontline services at the Downe Hospital are not reduced. She is a carer for her severely disabled brother and fully understands the issues, responsibilities and challenges caring for a member of her family.
She added, “One of the misunderstood points about the UUP is that it is a party for all people and as a member of the RC community I have been fully accommodated into it. I am a party member and accepted for what I am. My religion does not impede me in any way in what I am doing. That does not come into the equation. The UUP is a party of diversity and is forward looking.
“The UUP is committed to the principle of a Shared Future and this is demonstrated by myself and others being accepted into their ranks. This party can appeal to all sides of the community.”
In looking at the key issues facing Down District, Annette believes that economic regeneration is the main area that a future Council needs to address
and hopes to play a part in this in the new chamber after May 5th. “Local government can play a key role in stimulating the economy. We are facing very difficult times and I am ready to take this head on. Economic regeneration, job creation, attracting inward investment, promoting tourism are all key to our common future. And we do need to be focused on creating a value for money Council, and that means we need to be more focused on the Review of Public Administration which has stalled.
“We are faced very much with the returning the same old mandatory coalition and people just don’t seem to want to come out and vote. But if we want change for the better, they have to come out and vote. Basically if the electorate don’t vote they have no right to complain about the performance of government at Stormont and in the Councils.
“Local economic regeneration is badly needed and I will as a Councillor make very effort to lobby for better infrastructure for Down District such as roads, and help promote better services.”
Some Things You May Want To Know About Annette Holden.
* Annette is passionate about local politics and has been active on the ground serving South Down.
* She is a member of the RC faith.
* She is a carer and understands the position of the vulnerable in our society.
* She is experienced in senior public sector management for 20 years.
* She is a law graduate.
*She has supported the campaign to protect frontline health services at the Downe Hospital.