Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Visit to Deaf Club

As a member of the District Policing Partnership I attended a meeting of the Deaf Club in Bangor. I am no stranger to this group and have always looked forward to visiting the club. Indeed during my year as Mayor I was given a sign name - Maid Marion - and they all remember this and have great fun teasing me.
Also in attendance was a member of the Police Service and another DPP lay member.
Our signer for the evening was Rosie, who is exceptional she certainly makes the evening for everyone and does not miss out on any points being raised.
We had many questions, on safety when out, safety in the home, driving, and of course being a councillor as well as a member of the DPP my questions were on dog fouling, dog bins, street cleaning and graffiti. All of these issues I have passed on to the relevant Council Departments.
Our evening was as always great fun, it is one of the happiest and busiest meetings I would attend and as always the supper at the end was enjoyed by all.

Family pet's drug horror

The owners of a beautiful black labrador have made public the horrific event which took place regarding their pet labrador.
During a morning walk in Stricklands Glen with it's owner the dog on their return home the dog took ill. The vet made tests and the results from a forensic labratory confirmed that the dog had ingested cannabis.
The poor animal collapsed and for a short time became blind. Naturally the family were deeply upset.
We have always been a family of black labrador dogs and like any dog they become part of the home. When they take ill it is distressing.
I was horrified to be told of the incident, and find it unbelieveable that anyone would dump, hide or leave drugs in such a public area. I am very upset for the owners but dread to think what would have happened if a small child had found this drug and eaten it. I condem whoever did this - it is disguisting and outrageous.
My sympathy goes to the family and Bella the lovely black lab who is very fortunate to be still alive.

Over 250 objections to Apartments

On behalf of the residents of an area of Bangor West I have been fighting the Planning Service against a proposal to build 21 apartments. What really breaks my heart is that these are designated for the over 55's.
However, the developer is proposing to squeese into a small site where the post office once was 21 apartments, three stories high. Because of the lack of amenity space they are also proposing a roof terrace, I have questioned will this be supevised at all times - I doubt it, as the apartments will not have a caretaker/warden.
One of my major concerns is that effect this is having and will have on the elderly residents who will be affected by the proposal. The are all senior citizens, the majority have serious health problems and all are deeply distressed by what is happening. They have lived in their homes some 40 years and have established gardens which would achieve awards at any garden show.
Their request to the developer take away the 3rd floor, reduce the number of apartments. Also, nearby residents are worried about the depth of digging which will take place on site - this is to reduce the height roof level.
The proposal sits on the brow of a hill on a very busy road and there are concern as to just how traffic would exit enter the site. Roads Service have come up with the wonderful suggestion that those exiting sit and wait until there is a break in the traffic which at busy times is very difficult and to exit rather than make a right hand turn out, go left and then drive along the road, make a turn around the roundabout then drive into Bangor. They refuse to come out to try to make an exit or entrance from where the site is.
I have asked this matter to go to the Management Board as there are too many queries to be addressed.
Not least I hope those whose lifes will be affected that their worries are seriously taken into consideration.
No one has any problem with the proposal, we all welcome such a scheme - but surely consideration must be given first and foremost to residents.

Visible Women Conference 2008

The Clandeboye Lodge was once again the venue for the Visible Women conference when some 250 women from all sections of the business world and community gathered to have a most informative and enjoyable event.
This was organised by my self in partnership with Cllr Peter Weir and Cllr Michelle McIlveen along with the support and hard work by the two teams of officers from North Down Borough Council and Ards Borough Council.
The event is now it's third year and our speakers this year were, Patricia Lewsley, the Children's Commissioner, Dot Kirby Health Correspondent from the BBC, Aideen McGinley Permanent Secretary from the Department of Employment and Learning and Heather Moorhead Chief Executive from the Northern Ireland Local government association. A first class team of speakers.
As well as the considerable amount of networking which took place there was a serious side to the event which was to deliver a positive message to women that in all spheres of life they have a positive contribution to make. It is long past the time when women and their role in life is truly recognised and given their rightful position at any level. The event helped give inspiration and how to have better control over their lives.
We also held a ballot, where the prizes were gratefully donated by local businesses and the amount raised was £1164.50. Recently Michelle, Peter and myself presented the cheque to Women's Aid. The money will be used to help local victims of domestic violence.
The event is oversubscribed and is now well and truly in the yearly calendar of successful events for both Councils.

City Airport Extension

There is a heated on going debate taking place regarding the proposal for the City airport to have an extension of the runway by some 600meters. This of course will bring aircraft landing and take off 600 meters closer to residents living in Kinnegar, Holywood and Cultra. It does not take a genius to work out that the noise implications will spread much wider creating unnecessary upset to residents. The extension will also have the same affect those living in East Belfast.
Questionable claims have been made - e.g. that it will bring hundreds more jobs - I find this difficult to accept.
There will be increased traffic movement from 45000 to 48000 and if these are continental flights, these generally take off very early in the morning.
The city airport is a UK destination airport, we have a good international airport some 30 minutes drive away from the city airport and probably a few minutes flying time away. A place the size on Northern Ireland does not need a second international airport - certainly not one in such close proximity to housing as is being proposed.
Common sense tells me that a longer runway, means aircraft can take on more fuel, longer flights and more passengers.
This airport extension must not be allowed to go forward - the people who will suffer are residents and their views must be paramount.
I have written to the Minister objecting to this proposal.

Third Field of Hope

This past year I have along with Marie Curie organised a third Field of Hope with the help of primary school children.
Previously Rathmore Primary School and Grange Park Park Primary School, with the help of the men from North Down Borough Council preparing the areas, the school's planted some 6000 bulbs per Field of Hope.
This year the P7 pupils from Crawfordsburn Primary School along with residents very enthusiastically planted another 6000 bulbs. The Mayor Alderman Leslie Cree was also present and much to the delight of the children helped with the planting.
The school provided tea, coffee, juice and biscuits after the event when children and residents had a great time chatting.
While this was a fun event, and the children are watching the area very keenly to see when their bulbs will appear as daffodils, I have to thank everyone involved, personally the Field of Hope means a great deal to myself and family and I know that when I see the daffodils in the spring they always give me a real sense of hope and I must add a pride in the young children who planted the bulbs.

'The Friends' receive cheque

As Chair of the Friends of Bangor Community Hospital I was delighted to be invited to Bangor Golf Club to be presented with a cheque to The Friends of Bangor Community Hospital for £1510.00.

The cheque was presented jointly by the Lady Captain, Mrs Linda Bradshaw and the Men's Captain Mr John Garvin.

A few weeks after the presentation a further amount had been raised and this too was given to 'The Friends'.

As a small committee we are delighted with the community involvement with the local hospital and appreciate the donations given. The amounts raised all go towards helping provide comforts, needs and improvements to the hospital and I feel show just how much everyone in Bangor cares for what is their hospital.

Best kept Garden Competition

I was delighted to be invited along to the ceremony of the presentation to Mr & Mrs Giles from Crawfordsburn in recognition of this year's Bangor & District Best Kept Garden.
Their garden is one of the most beautiful and best kept in the area and cannot be missed when you drive along their road.
The couple were joined by friends and neighbours for the presentation from Mr Robert Mahaffy District Manager from the Housing Executive when he handed over a Plaque along with a welcome voucher for a meal at a local hotel.
We were lucky in having a sunny day for the event and their prize was well earned and deserved.

Oil Spillage in Crawfordsburn Glen

I was upset to be called by residents to see the environmental disaster which had taken place in the river and pond in Crawfordsburn Glen. As soon as I arrived in the village all I could smell was a heavy disgusting stink.
The ducks had disappeared from the pond, and the river and the banks were covered in a black scum.
On contacting the officers in the Town Hall and the Environmental Services, I can only pay them the highest of praise. There arrived on the spot very quickly and immediately tackled the hateful job of trying to clear out as much of the yellow scum from the river and clean up the river banks as best they could.
The is was a wanton and unnecessary act carried out locally and I am pleased that the local Police service were following up just how it happened.
Unfortunately there was a further spillage and once again everyone rallied to clear the mess up.
This area is a beauty spot used by many, villagers and visitors alike and residents along with myself are keeping a close eye on the area, such an act of vandalism must not be allowed to happen again.

Crawfordsburn Apartments

Along with concerned residents and a cross party group of politicians I met with Planning Service officials to debate the issue on the proposed scheme at Crawfordsburn. With the support of many residents from the village, - I have been representing them for many months fighting against a planning proposal which is totally unacceptable and which the Planning service has approved.
The scheme on the whole is welcomed but for the Planning Service to approve apartments in an area which is historic, scenic and a has 'olde world' charm, I find is mind boggling. These apartments will sit above the main street and have from day one been unacceptable by the villagers.
There is also a problem with traffic - additional congestion, increased parking, just to mention 2 issues.
There are many worries regarding this particular scheme, the debate we had with the Planning Service was detailed and I felt we approached it with reasoned and acceptable arguments.
We still await the decision from Planning Service, all I can do now is hope and pray that they will not go so far as to allow apartments in one of the few remaining historic villages in this Borough.

Have a Little Respect when Parking

There is a real problem with parking at the community hospital, and as in many cases it is simply a lack of respect for designated areas. I have seen cars parked in disability spaces which do not have blue badges nor any indication that the owner is disabled. We have cars parking in ambulance slots and spaces marked for doctors.
The Trust have issues a warning about the abuse of parking in disabled bays and that they could be compelled to enforce a clamping operation.
Car parking at the hospital is limited and I have pleaded for a little consideration to those who need designated parking - please leave the spaces clear.

Community Hospital Visit

The Minister for Health Michael McGimpsey accepted my invitation to visit the community hospital on behalf of The Friends of Bangor Community Hospital a group of dedicated volunteers which I chair.
During his visit he met with staff and toured the hospital. He was very impressed with what he saw, particularly the new scanner and X-ray unit.
The Minister praised the achievements of 'The Friends' who in a 10 year period raised over £100,000 for patients care. He also highlighted the excellent work delivered by the caring and dedicated staff who deliver services.
His visit was welcomed and that we have a bright future in looking toward the new accommodation for health in Bangor which should commence in 2010.

Catching Up

To those who read my blog, thank you.
However, you will have noticed that I have not been posting articles for a few months now. Apologies for that.
Time never seems to be on my side and when I do have a free day there are so many issues I need attend to on the home front - well - another day has passed.
It is snowing outside and I am up to date on most problems, and I have been promising myself the first free day I would sit down and catch up!