Downpatrick is our County Town and Council must re-affirm that status
Downpatrick is our County Town and Council must re-affirm that status
  1. Bring back the Downpatrick Masterplan, putting it under local Downpatrick DEA Councillors’ democratic control. Re-balancing development spending between Downpatrick and Newry link. Downpatrick is our County Town – here is a summary of the Downpatrick Masterplan
  2. Declare a Climate Change Emergency in Newry, Mourne and Down. Amend the Council’s Development plan to 2030 for real actions to prepare our Council area for the change we must all undergo – here is a summary of these changes
  3. Campaign for the Down Hospital in Downpatrick – the South Eastern Trust accept that there is a clinical need for a 24 hour A/E in Downpatrick – but claim they cannot find the staff. Our local doctors provide an out-of-hours service when the A/E closes at night. Our Council must push as hard for Down Hospital services as it does for Daisy Hill in Newry. Here is a link to my website showing me campaigning back to 2007 on this issue
  4. Supporting Community groups and community festivals with longer-term funding. We are finally moving to ‘SLA’s’ (service level agreements) for funding community centres over a 4 to 5 year period. We must do the same for community festivals like those in Ardglass, Killough, Strangford and Downpatrick to ensure communities can plan ahead and seek matching funding. The silly bureaucracy around grants needs to be cut back drastically – having to submit constitutions or other documentation repetitively several times a year or filling in 36 page applications every time – a mad waste of time for community volunteers. i am working on a detailed document here.
  5. Value for money for ratepayers.
    1. Roll back the the dreadful top-heavy management structure in Council. Some areas have more managers than staff. After 7 years planning the merger of the 2 Councils, some staff in Downpatrick are 2 grades below their equivalent in Newry – this is not acceptable. We have more management than we had in the 2 Councils. The merger was done back-to-front. Instead of starting with front-line services like bins, street sweeping etc and minimizing management- they started with layers of management and are only now getting around to front line services.
    2. Reduce domestic and especially commercial rates on our high streets. Our high streets have been affected by on-line shopping and big-box shopping centres yet rates are increased every year – soon most high streets will be mostly charity shops. We could easily get £10 million a year in additional rates from renewable energy by 2030 to make up the difference-  if we start now – Council voted down a wind-farm in the last Council period with rates in excess of £1.5 million pa.