Pope renews call for Rushmere train station
The Chair of the ABC Council’s Economic Development and Regeneration Committee has renewed calls for a train station to be built at Rushmere shopping centre.
Alliance Councillor Brian Pope also called for greater local control over transport planning and strategic funding decisions in the Borough.
The Alliance Councillor said: “I believe that strategic planning of transport, funding decisions and the development of our townscapes will have a huge bearing on the success of our economic recovery.
“For example, I believe that a new railway station and park and ride facility in the Rushmere area of Craigavon could create an economic development and sustainable transport hub which would benefit the wider area, including those travelling from Armagh.”
“Connectivity is key and enhanced transport links with Belfast and Dublin, the strategic development of the A1 corridor in Banbridge, and sustainable linkages to build our tourism sector could create new jobs and opportunities. Successfully connecting people and places.
“However, the correct powers and funding decisions are needed to deliver any strategic plan and vision.”
Mr Pope said a closer partnership arrangement between councils and the Executive Departments would be ‘a good start’.
But he added, “At this critical moment we should ask ourselves if we have the necessary powers and control over local decision making to deliver the outcomes our citizens require.”
“In normal circumstances, there exists a working arrangement where local councils’ apply to the Executive Departments for individual project funding or to make the case for changes to policy or regulations.”
“However, we are now in exceptional circumstances where quick decisions are essential for recovery and strategic decisions are required.
“This is highlighted by the recent decision by the Minister for Infrastructure to ask councils to relax the rules for on-street cafes and bars and also the Department’s investigation into potential widening of pavements to help with social distancing.”
“The decision to provide more flexibility on pavement use is welcomed, subject to ensuring disabled access is maintained, and greater pedestrianisation is something that is increasingly seen as a way to help revitalise our towns.
“But without visibility of these decisions or the processes, timescales and likelihood of funding it is extremely difficult to plan for the medium or longer term.”