Down District Council Meets Roads Minister Danny Kennedy
A cross-party delegation from Down District Council led by the Vice-Chairman, Councillor Gareth Sharvin, met with the DRD Minister Danny Kennedy in Belfast on Monday 12 August 2013 to discuss a range of issues relating to roads infrastructure and transport congestion in the Down District Council area.
The delegation, which included Ulster Unionist representative, Walter Lyons, Democratic Unionist Party’s Councillor William Dick and SDLP Councillor Dermot Curran highlighted to the Minister the need to progress the projects which Roads Service had already identified as viable schemes. The delegation took the opportunity to appraise the Minister on a number of issues relating to road and traffic issues in the district.
Following the meeting Councillor Sharvin said: “I welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Minister to outline the Council’s concerns at the lack of investment in the road infrastructure in the district over many years. The meeting with Minister Danny Kennedy was to deliver the essential message, DRD needs to invest in Down District to help improve the road infrastructure and deliver on creating jobs.
“The delegation from Down District Council covered a number of key areas across the district, which could help keep the district moving forward. The Minister had great understanding of the issues and said Down would not be forgotten for delivery of road improvements. The delegation was informed of the Minister’s intention to deliver on the small cluster schemes and he aimed to deliver those projects with the support of the Executive during the current Stormont term”.
“This commitment is great news for Down district, which could see the small schemes such as the link road across the PSNI site be created and implemented. The Minister and his officials have committed to the improvements at Collins Corner and at Bishopsbrae hill to name a few.”
Councillor Sharvin further commented that by opening this new dialogue of communication both the Council and Roads Service officials can work in partnership for resolving the traffic congestion we experience across Down district.
In particular the deputation highlighted the failure of Roads Service to progress key capital projects such as the Ballynahinch by-pass, improvements to the A7 at Rowallane and the identified schemes to alleviate congestion in Downpatrick itself.
Councillor Dick welcomed the Minister’s undertaking to deliver on the smaller schemes and said he is hopeful that the A7 road between Doran’s Rock and Rowallane will be included. He added: “I am pleased that the Minister has acknowledged that the smaller schemes in our district require investment and I am hopeful that the main arterial route to the district will be developed to the standard of such major roads. It is also paramount that this work is undertaken in the interests of road safety and I look forward to the completion of the works”.
Ballynahinch Councillor, Walter Lyons spoke about his concern with regards to the lack of a start date for the Ballynahinch by-pass scheme which has been planned for over 50 years. He said: “Despite the key role played by Ballynahinch as the gateway to the tourist areas of Newcastle and the Mournes, it is disappointing that this project does not yet have a commencement date. I have impressed upon the Minister the need for the Ballynahinch by-pass works, which must be prioritised.”
Councillor Curran also expressed his concern over the lack of significant progress in tackling congestion in Downpatrick, and said: “The congestion problem experienced in our County town has been highlighted in a number of recent surveys and the impact that it is having on the ability of the town to attract shoppers.” Councillor Curran also took the opportunity to raise the issue of barriers being erected by DRD in the scenic village of Strangford and the failure to manage traffic at peak times.
Councillors Curran and Lyons called upon the Minister to improve the transportation infrastructure and tackle congestion problems in Downpatrick and Ballynahinch.
Councillor Sharvin added: “The Minister took on board the comments made by the delegation and hoped that significant progress could be made on the Ballynahinch bypass within the next 18 months. He reaffirmed his commitment to making progress within his overall remit. He also hoped to assemble a list of viable medium sized roads schemes for Northern Ireland which could be progressed relatively quickly. His officials would also provide the Council with an update on all schemes under consideration by Roads Service at its meeting at the end of the month.
“The Minister was very interested in what we had to say and assured us that he acknowledged our concerns and issues. He said his department remained committed to delivering a programme of schemes in Down district, however, each project must meet the statutory requirements and have the necessary budget allocated to it,” added Councillor Sharvin.