DUP Consider Saintfield Main Street Regeneration

“Regenerating town centres is a great way to enhance civic pride and boost the local economy. In my role as Chair of the Social Development Committee at the Assembly I have seen several schemes come to fruition that have greatly improved the appearance and economy of the town’s that have benefitted. “I have been able to attend several meetings of the Saintfield Steering Committee as they have developed their plans to regenerate the Main Street. [caption id="attachment_21205" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="DUP representatives, MLA Simon Hamilton, Down District Councillor Billy Walker, Assembly election candidate, Jim Shannon MP, and Councillor William Dick on the Main Street in Saintfield with Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Stephen Moutray MLA."][/caption] “Because of Saintfield’s size, Departmental responsibility for its regeneration rests with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  The intention of the Committee – working closely alongside Down District Council – has been to apply to the Down Rural Area Partnership for funding to regenerate the Main Street. “However, more recently it has become clear that because Saintfield doesn’t register as a deprived area the amount of funding that may be available would be severely limited thus curtailing the scale of any scheme.  This seems totally and absolutely unfair and does nothing but discriminate against Saintfield”. Councillor Billy Walker added, “We are immensely grateful to Stephen Moutray the Chair of the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee for taking the time out to visit Saintfield and see for himself the real need there is for investment in the Main Street. “We felt it was essential that Stephen be aware of our concerns because of a misleading issue of  perceived affluence in the area and that Saintfield’s real need for regeneration could be dismissed. The good work of the Steering Committee and the Council could be ignored. “We really feel that Saintfield has huge potential and that in these challenging economic times, the regeneration of the Main Street is crucial if the town is to be the best that it can be. “We wanted to show Stephen the boost that the Main Street regeneration scheme would bring to Saintfield and ask him to take our issue back to Stormont and raise our concerns with the Department. We know that times are tough but the Rural Development Programme funding is supposed to be there to help towns like Saintfield and build upon the excellent work of the Town Regeneration Committee.  It would be a shame if that opportunity was lost”, added Councillor Walker.]]>