A CRAIGAVON council member has suggested that the Civic Centre should “place in cold storage” an environmental Green Flag award it was given to celebrate the fact that the Bann Boulevard area is one of the best green spaces in the island of Ireland.
Alderman Woolsey Smith highlighted the “unsightly weeds” that dominate much of the stretch of the Bann in Portadown and also slammed the lack of work at the Newry Canal. Mr Smith believes until the area is tidied, Craigavon Borough Council shouldn’t display the flag.
“The unsightly weeds and the fact that the Newry Canal needs serious upgrading make me wonder if the council deserves this accolade, and until the river is tidied, they shouldn’t display the flag,” he said.
“The weeds are chest-high in places along the banks of the Bann - so much so that some angling stands are inaccessible. And 10 years ago, journalist Brian Courtney and I navigated the Newry Canal as far as Moneypenny’s in a motor boat. You could hardly make it in a rowing boat nowadays for the weeds.”
Mr Smith raised the issue at last week’s borough council meeting when the members were celebrating a generous £169,000 investment in angling at three venues - the Bann, the city lakes and Lurgan Park lake. He told the council that anglers at the Bann couldn’t reach some of the stands because of the weeds. And Councillor Tommy O’Connor said the same problem was faced on the lakes, “where fish are often caught up in the weeds as they’re hauled in”.
Mr Smith explained, “We also asked about the major weeds machine and was assured it would soon be in action on the banks and in the water. We’ll wait and see.”
It is the second year in succession that the Bann has received the ‘Green’ accolade, while it has been granted to Lurgan Park for the past four years. The citation said, “The picturesque boulevard running from Shillington’s Quay to Moneypenny’s Lock takes in both the river and scenic tow path, regularly used by walkers, rowers, runners and cyclists. The Green Flag award scheme is a national standard and a means of recognising and rewarding the best parks and green spaces in the country.
“Lurgan Park is the largest urban park in Northern Ireland and attracts in the region of 2,000 visitors each weekend who come to enjoy the facilities or spectate at the various sporting events which take place at the 259-acre parkland.”
Councillor Ronnie Harkness, chairman of the leisure services committee, said, “I am delighted that both Lurgan Park and Bann Boulevard continue to boast the Green Flag status. I am particularly proud and pleased for the staff. It is great to see their hard work and dedication recognised. Along with the local community they work hard to maintain the parks to a high standard so they are places for everyone to enjoy.”