SIX years after transferring from Newry and Mourne to Banbridge District Council administration, Rathfriland ratepayers reportedly believed they had been better off before the switch.
Rathfriland joined Banbridge council in 1993 - a decision at the time described by the late Councillor John Ingram as “popular” - but by 1999 it was claimed residents considered the transfer a “monumental blunder”.
The claims emerged from the Rathfriland branch of Robert McCartney’s UK Unionist Party, who blamed the Ulster Unionists for the discontent.
That discontent reportedly centred on lighting outside the John Street Community Centre and the standard of street-cleaning in the town, with the dimly-lit community centre car-park described as an ideal place for car vandals, muggers, handbag-snatchers and “other undesirable elements”, while it was said “scant attention” had been paid to street cleaning.
Mr. Ingram remained adamant that developments since the transfer, including the council’s role in providing the new community centre and synthetic tennis courts, had been to Rathfriand’s advantage and the lighting problem was being addressed.
Likewise the council’s technical services director rejected suggestions that Rathfriland was getting a raw deal from his department; he very rarely received street cleaning complaints from Rathfriland, he said.