Tag Archive for 'Downe'

Jan 2&7 2014 Downe Hospital A & E protest

Jan 2&7 2014 A raft of letters sent to all the regional and National papers

Down Councillor Cadogan Enright had protest letters published in Irish News, Belfast Telegraph and Irish Times. Also a reported sighting in the Newsletter – still looking for that one – see link to 2 versions of this letter here
The full uncut full version was published in Down News at http://www.downnews.co.uk/enright-slams-trust-for-cutting-downe-ae-hours/









Cllrs Dermot Curran and Cadogan Enright on the Downshire Complex

Cllrs Dermot Curran and Cadogan Enright on the Downshire Complex

Councillors Cadogan Enright and Dermot Curran are seeking renewed Council support for their long-running battle to secure a ‘fit for purpose’ bus service to the New Downshire Campus including the Hospital, A&E, local doctors surgeries, the Housing Executive, the Council itself and other existing and future  agencies slated for Downpatrick’s Public Sector Campus.

Cllr Enright said “We are seeking a fresh clear mandate to tackle the Trust and seek support for Translink on this issue by way of ‘notice of motion’ at the next council meeting. We have been working to secure access for a decent service for 3 years. The Ardglass bus and the Downpatrick Town busses still can’t get onto the site. We have so far succeeded in getting only an occasional service from the ‘town bus’ which alone is small enough get past the obstacles blocking the site”.

Cllr Dermot Curran said “A year has passed since the Trust promised alterations to the site to allow access by the Ardglass bus route and to facilitate the Knocknashinna bus or to allow the Town bus up though the site to access the Housing Executive or new Council Buildings. This leaves our local Hospital as the only one in the South Eastern area or the Belfast area without access to a decent bus service or access to a bus station” .

“It is astonishing that a cross-departmental group of highly-paid public servants could have met for 6 years to plan the creation of the Public Sector Campus on the Ardglass Road, and so comprehensively ignored all submissions by Translink or Councillors like Cadogan and myself  on the need for public transport. There should be no need to alter the site to accommodate buses; the Campus should have been built correctly from day 1.” Continued Cllr Curran.

The Down Recorder has previously reported on comments from a survey of patients attending one of the new doctor surgeries at the Downe. Comments included “direct bus service non-existent” … “my worst problem is transport”  . . .”not convenient, no transport, have to depend on neighbors” … “bus service no good, almost no buses”.

This motion co-insides with a press release this week from the voice of patients in Northern Ireland, the ‘Patient Client Council’, supported by the Consumer Council and Transport Minister Kennedy and Health Minister Poots highlighting ‘Transport Issues in Accessing Health and Social Care’ in which it is alleged that the Health System in NI loses £2.2 million per annum in missed appointments due to lack or transport, with one in five patients being affected by lack of transport to hospital.

“Minister Poots seems to be agreeing with what Dermot and I have been saying for years. Aside from poor service to the public, it makes no logical sense for the Trust to continue to block proposals from Translink to get a ‘fit for purpose’ bus service on-site. If Translinks proposals were executed correctly, it might not even cost the Trust a penny in additional cost. The Council, the Housing Executive and all the other public sector bodies on the Campus must be accessable for those without transport and the Downe deserves services comparable with Lagan Valley, the Ulster or Belfast” concluded Cllr Cadogan Enright.

10 /05 / 2013 Report Finds a Fifth of Respondents Miss a Health Appointment Due to Transport Issues

A fifth of people surveyed had missed an appointment and almost a quarter have cancelled an appointment due to issues with transport, according to a report published today by the Consumer Council and Patient and Client Council.

Pictured at the launch of the Transport Issues in Accessing Health and Social Services Report are Edwin Poots, Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety; Antoinette McKeown, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council ; Maeve Hully, Chief Executive of the Patient and Client Council and Danny Kennedy, Minister for Regional Development.The report ‘Transport Issues in Accessing Health and Social Care’ captures the experiences of people travelling to and from health and social care facilities and was launched by Edwin Poots, Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and Danny Kennedy, Minister for Regional Development at Stormont.

The report has also found that missed appointments due to transport issues could be costing the health service up to £2.2 million per year.

In a joint statement Maeve Hully, Chief Executive of the Patient and Client Council and Antoinette McKeown, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council said “People rely on a range of transport options to access health and social care services and it is vitally important that people are able to attend appointments on which their health and wellbeing depend.”

“This report shows that missed appointments not only impact on people’s wellbeing, they also have a significant financial impact on our health and social care services. One solution to this problem has to be greater joined up working with the relevant bodies and more inclusion of travel information with patient appointment letters.”

The Consumer Council and Patient and Client Council will continue to work together to address the issues raised in this report and seek improvements to transport access to health and social care services to reduce the personal and financial cost of missed appointments.





  • Citybus 4a every 15 minutes, half of them go onto Dundonald and half use the turning circle to head back to Belfast
  • Route 5 from Ards, 7 from Donaghadee and 11/9 from Portaferry run at least hourly and combine to make a service between NewtonArds and the Ulster of every 20 minutes minimum. (ends up in Laganside)
  • Bus’s also exist from Killyleagh, Comber and Ballygowan but unfortunately the routes were not designed to take the location of the Hospital into account before heading up the same road to Belfas


  • 5 minutes walk from Bus Station in Lisburn
  • Belfast connection every 15 minutes
  • Hospital bus stop on route 38 with buses to/from Newry, Banbridge, Hillsboro and Dromore every 15 minutes at peak dropping to hourly at night and weekends
  • Rural bus subsidised by ‘Rural Transport Fund’ runs 3 times a day from Newcastle, Ballynahinch direction – not likely to last in the longer term


  • Downpatrick Bus Station connected to over half the towns in the Trust
  • 15-minutely shuttle-bus from bus station to Hospital promised by Trust as part of new hospital project – but was cancelled near the end of the Hospital build project
  • 30 minute walk from bus station to hospital
  • Local campaigners have succeeded in getting one of the 2 ‘town services’ to go to the hospital at the ‘bottom of every hour’, but very inadequate (315a)
  • Ardglass to Downpatrick bus (and other rural services) pass the Downeshire site but can’t get access as entrance is obstructed.
  • Clearly access to the Downe is not satisfactory


  • Surgeries moved up to Downeshire in last few weeks
  • Large number of public servants being relocated to the Downeshire over the coming year.
  • See constructive letter from Translink/Ulsterbus



Legally binding Article 122 Agreements were proposed in the years of planning preceding the creation of the ‘Down Public Sector Campus’. Down Council committed to pay £200,000, the Health Trust paying £500,000 and the PSNI £200,000.  This was to resolve the anticipated traffic problems associated with the development of the site. The SE Trust has since renaged ón this committment. The Roads Service considered the following measures necessary immediately:-


St Patrick’s Avenue/Vianstown Road (Cinema Link)  DONE

Junction improvements at Ardglass Road/Ballyhornan Road minor improvement done – not what was expected

Junction improvements at Ardglass road/Killough Road

Junction improvements at Collins Corner

Junction improvements at St Patrick’s Avenue/Market Street

Town Centre Link road

Town Centre one-way system

Are there any positives for 2013 from the dereliction spreading via empty Health Trust buildings across Downpatrick?

Cllr Cadogan Enright observing fires at Pound Lane from St Dillans Avenue October 2012

Cllr Cadogan Enright observing fires at Pound Lane from St Dillans Avenue October 2012

Enormous damage has been done to the centre of Downpatrick by poorly-planned management of valuable land and buildings across a whole swathe of the town by the SE Health Trust. As I live so close to the sites in question, I have had to call Downpatrick out the fire brigade on more than one occasion, and have also had to stand and watch while each building is burnt in turn. Community police claim they know who the culprits are, and that there are very few of them. However unless they are lifted and punished, it does very little good and only drags down the reputation of the whole area.

Aside from poor forward planning for the re-use of these buildings, they were secured in the most expensive manner using hoardings that would only keep law-abiding citizens, out and left without real security. Meanwhile organised theft on a massive scale of lead and other valuables from the old hospital has gone one and the whole area has now become a magnet for vandals for miles around. If the dereliction of protected Historic buildings had been allowed in the Private Sector, there would be accusations flying that it was deliberate  Sadly, this is an unlikely scenario here.

We have now reached such a state of dereliction  that it is very difficult to see why the South Eastern Trust cannot cooperate with the Road Service and Council and bring forward long-outstanding and oft reneged on comprehensive plans to finally implement a link road between the New Hospital cum Public Sector Campus and the Ballydugan Road. This would facilitate Down District being the HQ for the new Council and secure the future of the new Hospital by ensuring that it could not be said that access is impossible. Clearly this will still leave the question of how to access the Belfast Road from this site, but lets make a start where there are already pre-existing agreements in place to upgrade the key junctions down though the town.

Map of Public Sector Tenants at Downe

Map of Public Sector Tenants at Downe

Dick Shannon of the Down Community Health Committee has given me documents that show that the South Eastern Trust have reneged on commitments to pay the road service £450,000 towards the upgrading of roads and key junctions down though Downpatrick from the New Hospital and New Council down to the Bus Station on Market Street. These junctions include the Ardglass/Ballyhornan intersection, the Killough Road/Ballyhornan intersection, Collins’ Corner and the corner of St Patrick’s Avenue and Market Street. It is clear from these documents that £225,000 was to have been paid to the Road Service on the commencement of the Council Development, and another £225,000 was to have been paid on the commencement of the new Police Station at the Downe Public Sector Campus. Additionally the Council and the PSNI had to pay £200,000 each. The Council are working with the Road Service to advance plans ONLY with the PSNI and Council contribution. This issue is also about good asset management at the SE Health Trust, as if the Trust really wants its Public Sector Campus to be a huge success, then good roads and bus connections are a vital part of this picture.

Downpatrick Road Access to New Downe

Downpatrick Road Access to New Downe

If this was sorted out, then we could even propose that the Public Sector Campus at the Downe be extended to cover the whole area of dereliction from the Ardglass Road, across to Edward Street and down to Collins’s corner. This would turn a major liability for the SE Health Trust into a major asset. However there is little evidence on the ground that this sort of capability exists in the management of land banks. It is clear that the SE Health Trust has trouble coordinating the planning of its assets within the Trust area, let alone between the other Trusts within the HSC and the Public Sector in general. A case in point here is how Translink over the last 6 years have worked to try and persuade the group of public sector managers delivering the vision of the ‘Public Sector Campus’ to allow local bus services onto the site and develop ‘shuttle-bus’ concept down to Downpatrick bus station. Not only would this be consistent with government policy, but it would allow the Public Sector Campus to grow and prosper and let sick and elderly people more easily access the hospital and GP’s clinics. Translink has been repeatedly rebuffed.

There have been 2 bits of positive news between the end of 2012 and the start of 2013. Firstly the positive response by PSNI Commander Deirdre Bones to my request to allow Roads Service personnel to survey the derelict areas between Market Street and  the old PSNI station (see link). At the most recent meeting between the Road Service and Council they were able to tell us that they can now proceed with the survey needed for the new one-way system several years ahead of schedule without waiting for the PSNI to move out. This means that in the coming financial year we will get the cost of the project, and will be able to finally canvass Stormont to get funding. Downpatrick is the only urban centre within commuting distance of Belfast not to have congestion relief spending in the last 20 years.

Secondly I received support from Cllr Dermot Curran (see link) to create a cross-party group for Down council where all political parties in Down District will work to one agenda to break the log-jam on the Roads Congestion issue as well as work together to retain and secure public sector jobs for the County Town of Downpatrick and the District in general. This will operate like the Ballyhornan Taskforce, with a dedicated Council management resource driving it. I proposed to Council Chief Executive last year that we needed someone like Gerry McBride to front this, and it has come to pass with the support of all parties.

The dereliction of the centre, and the development of the new Down Leisure Centre might also create other opportunities of relieve congestion and link up all the vital services in the town in a coherent manner. The Cinema and the Council between them control all the land between the new link-road near Collins Corner and the Ballydugan Road near the ASDA shopping complex. Perhaps it is now time to look afresh at the concept of a road by-passing residential districts and the busy centre from the Hospital and Public Sector Campus, down to the Cinema, and on the boggy ground under Pemberton and the Vianstown Road down to a new roundabout at the outskirts of ASDA . If we don’t act now, future development will block all these opportunities.

As both myself and Cllr Dermot Curran are on the SE Health Trusts LCG, which looks at the commissioning of services in the SE Health Trust area, it is our intention to bring forward a presentation to our fellow LCG members, and try and persuade them that we should influence the Trust to see that that from a purely financial perspective, it would make enormous sense for the Trust to manage its assets in Downpatrick in a holistic manner, and try and see itself as a ‘Developer’, but in the business of making money for the taxpayer, as well as saving the Trust very large amounts of money in dealing with derelict property.