FOLLOWING a number of issues arising from the access of transport to the new Downe Hospital campus in Downpatrick, a cross-party sub-committee has been set up in Down District Council to address this.
It was felt that there had been years of delays in resolving the Roads congestion in the town including improving access to the new Downshire hub formerly the site of the Downshire hospital.
This initiative was spearheaded by Councillors Cadogan Enright and Dermot Curran and has succeeded in making progress if drawing the various agencies together to engage with the issues concerned.
Councillor Enright said: “At a meeting of Downpatrick Councillors we agreed to campaign on these issues on a cross-party basis. Downpatrick is the only main hub within 20 miles of Belfast not to have benefited from significant investment to ease congestion.
‘The development of our ‘public sector campus’ in the Downshire estate is unique among the three main hospitals in the South Eastern HSC Trust area as it has an inadequate bus service to support the users of the hospital and the public service hub.”
Councillor Curran added: “These issues are crucial to Downpatrick consolidating its role as a public sector jobs hub. At my last neeting in Council as chairman, I put forward a motion for the need for the Chief Executive to develkop a campaign to address the need to attract public sector jibs following a series of negative announcements. I welcome improving amendments from Councillor Enright at the time and this cross-party proposal will give these campaigns real teeth.”
Also supporting the initiative, Downpatrick Councillors committee chairperson Eamonn mac Con Midhe said: “I welcome this proposal. We are taking a similar approach here to our successful all-party Ballyhornan committee. The sub-committee will be empowered to invite our MP, MLA’s and all interested parties to play their role in the campaign as we have done for Ballyhornan. These issues are too important for party politics.”
The move was supported by Council Chief Executive John Dumigan who appointed a senior Council officer to support the work of the campaigns.
Councillor Enright added: “The roads and public transport elements of this project are very complex. They involve Roads Service, Translink, the Health Trust, the Council, all the tenants of the new Downshire hub as well as the emergency services. Having a co-ordinated approach to public sector employment is no less complex.
“Since June, Council has sent Freedom of Information requests to all associated public sector bodies in Northern Ireland questioning their approach to public sector employment in Down District over the past five years, and this is currently being complied to enabe us to lobby effectively at Stormont up to and including the Offices of First and Deputy First Ministers.”
As part of the work of the cross-party committee, the matter of access to the new police station in Downpatrick being located on the Downshire site has been discussed and it is hoped that to ease congestion in Downpatrick, planning permission can be made for a new road linking to the Ballyhornan Road from the Downshire hub site.
It is hoped that when the public transport issues have been resolved, there will be a bus servicing the Downshire hub and Down Hospital every 15 minutes.
Down News also understands there are issues of funding of the final roads solutions to be resolved.
A possible drop off point could be at the rear ground floor door of the new Downe Hospital beside the cafeteria which opens up onto the from of the Downshire estate. Buses could come in through the front Downshire gate and drop off patients, visitors etc close to the hospital, but this option has to be agreed between the agencies.