A RECENTLY formed residents’ group in Gilford are heading to Stormont to plead their case for a fair deal with the Planning Minister Alex Atwood.
The Gilford Concerned Residents’ Group asked for an audience with the Minister after the recent approval of a multi-million pound golf resort on Northern Ireland’s north coast.
An application for the resort was approved despite major concerns in the area, and the Gilford group have contrasted that decision with the controversial refusal of a similar application for Gilford more than five years ago.
More than 2,500 residents signed a petition in 2007 urging the Planning Service to reverse its decision to turn down the £25m plan for a Gilford Castle Golf Club and Academy.
The group now want to know why the less ambitious scheme for Gilford was turned down by a previous Minister in 2006.
Group members Timothy Mayes, Roy Leckey and Aidan Maginn will be accompanied to Stormont by SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly and they will also appeal to the Minister for funds to be allocated for a general tidy-up of the Gilford area, as £400,000 has been allocated to the North West for this purpose.
The group was formed last summer and meetings have taken place on a monthly basis since June 2011. To date the group have lobbied successfully for the following: increased street bin collections, increased floral displays, comprehensive weed spraying programme, as well as the roll-out of a comprehensive hogweed eradication programme. A town centre warden to maintain the tidiness of the area on a regular basis has been agreed by the Banbridge Council.
The group have also lobbied the council on anti-social behaviour and recently extra police patrols have been introduced, with some success.
The Gilford Community Forum has taken a proactive role in the new leisure centre which is due to open in mid-April and the Residents Goup will support this in any way they can.
A spokesman for the group said, “All in all, the group are satisfied with the progress to date, however much more remains to be done and the outcome of the meeting with the Minister will determine how things move ahead in respect of the number of derelict buildings.
“The group thanked MP David Simpson for his role in increasing floral displays in Gilford this year. However there is still a statistical imbalance in the Banbridge region. The group intend to pursue this issue further in 2013. We would also thank Junior McCrum and Louise Templeton of the DUP and Jo-Anne Dobson and Andrew Cromwell of the UUP, and Dolores Kelly of the SDLP for all their help.”
Group member Timothy said, “Gilford has suffered many disappointments over the years but anything the residents’ group can do to improve the quality of life for the general area will certainly be part of our plans for the future. As I have said on many occasions, we can guarantee outcomes but we can do our best.”
The Residents’ Group are meeting DRD Minister Danny Kennedy on Wednesday, April 25 to discuss roads issues in Gilford.