Strangford Village Community Association has hit out at Down Council attempting to redevelop Strangford Village Green without consulting with local people. Down Council intends to make permanent its unofficial conversion of the slipway area into a car park and to build a huge piece of public art in would then remain of the lower Green as well as other extensive works on the green using funds from the Down Rural Area Partnership (DRAP) for as part of their Mourne Coastal project.
Councilor Cadogan Enright has attempted to intervene and brokered a meeting last week between Mark Mohan representing Council management and the Village Association. Cllr Enright said “there were easy an obvious compromises where both sides could get what they want to the benefit of the village green. I was shocked when Mark Mohan later informed us on Friday night that the council Director concerned (Marie Ward) had refused to meet village committee representatives to work out a compromise”.
Community Association Chair Diarmuid Riordan said “Local people are appalled. To make matters worse Council officers are aware that the village committee were given substantial funding by the Down Rural Area Partnership (DRAP) to consult with local people and develop an ‘Integrated Village Plan’ to reflect what local people would like to see in all areas of village life. This included having the Village Green as a shared space for all the community and tourists alike. Down Council however has decided to press ahead with its own plans, and intends to approach DRAP to fund these plans in defiance of the wishes of local people.
Association Treasurer Gary Laverty said Cllr Enright said, “ Strangford Community Association are writing to DRAP to urge the Rural Development office in Ards not to release the funds for the Strangford part of the Mournes Coastal scheme, as the basic requirement under the DRA P scheme for community consultation have not been met.”
Cadogan Enright said, “The slipway is almost the only public one left on this side of Strangford Lough. The Council has turned it into an unofficial carpark even though a Ferry carpark already exists. Both local people and tourists alike need somewhere to launch their boats. Not everyone is in a yacht club. I have photographs going back to the 50’s and 60’s and before of the slipway. This is part of the fabric of the village. This is going to turn into another ‘Strangford Fence’ campaign. We have only just finished fighting off DRD’s attempt to fence off New Quay, now we will have to fight off a new land-grab on a community space by the Council”.
Diarmuid Riordan agreed and said “A statue of Lenin would be more welcome in Kiev at the moment than Councils statue in the middle of our green. This is the heart of the village where the fairground, the community festival and the public life of the village takes place. If we have to have a statue, then there are 2 spaces in the upper green where they could be situated.”
The Village committee continues to demand a meeting with senior council management, and has vowed to resist any proposal inimical to the best interests of the lower green or Strangford Village as a whole.