Council looks back on positive term

BANBRIDGE is a better place to live, work, visit and invest today than it was six years ago.

That’s according to Council Chief Executive Liam Hannaway, who spoke as the council reflected on events and developments throughout the district since 2005.

Councillors present at the last full council meeting before breaking up ahead of May’s elections spoke positively about the legacy the feel they have left since taking office six years ago.

Mr Hannaway said, “Councillors and council staff have worked hard during this council term to support the district’s continued growth and development, investing over £10 million in a package of priority projects and bringing real civic, social, environmental and economic benefits to local people.

“I am very proud of what we’ve achieved in the past six years and what we’ll continue to achieve as we go forward.”

Mr Hannaway said a good rapport among councillors and council officers has allowed good work to be done throughout the district.

“Good working relationships between councillors and council officers have enabled the council to improve its performance year-on-year within a managed budget, and deliver on the objectives of its corporate strategy.

“Working like we do within a largely harmonious political environment with each group having a clearly defined role – councillors setting the long-term strategic focus and Council officers working in the short to medium term to achieve set goals – can yield positive results.”

Banbridge now has a new Community Recycling Centre and Restore shop for refurbished furniture, an award-winning arts gallery, a stunning civic space in Solitude Park, a new memorial garden at the former hospital site and enhanced sports facilities at Havelock Park and Cheney Park.

Rathfriland has benefited from significant regeneration as a result of a shop front scheme, environmental enhancements, a new enterprise centre and public toilets. Dromore has benefited from environmental and park enhancements schemes and many commercial properties in the town centre have been upgraded to provide living accommodation. The toilets in Dromore Town Hall have also been refurbished.

Gilford has been regenerated with an environmental improvement scheme and work to build a new community centre at Stramore Park has begun. Many new play areas have been provided across the district and visitor facilities have been upgraded.

Council Chairman Jim McElroy said Banbridge District Council has continued to raise its head above the rest for all the right reasons.

“We may not be the biggest council in Northern Ireland, but we’re certainly one of the best,” said Mr McElroy.

“The abundance of awards we have amassed over the years for our performance in all service areas is testimony to the level of commitment that staff give to their work. You just have to look at our success in areas such as recycling and waste management, community safety, leisure provision and economic development as proof of this.

“We’ve developed an ethos of service excellence among all members of staff with a strong focus on value for money. As a new council term begins, it’s vital that the newly elected councillors continue to invest in the future of the district.”

Councillor McElroy said he looks forward to a future whereby the council continues to improve facilities and services within the district.

“We’re committed to future planning and developing an area that supports the growth of sustainable communities – that is safe and inclusive, well planned, built and run, and offers equality of opportunity and good services for all local people,” he said.

“We want everyone who lives, works, visits or invests here to be able to experience and enjoy first hand the improvements that the Council continues to make. So watch this space.”