At September’s meeting of the Castlewellan and Kilcoo Branch of the SDLP, Branch Chairman John Duggan praised South Down MLA Sean Rogers for visiting a number of residents in Castlewellan and assisting them at extremely short notice. A wide range of issues were addressed.
Those present discussed a number of issues in the area. Also, the rioting in North Belfast was discussed at length. Alban Magennis MLA was commended for being the first representative to speak out in response to the trouble that broke out in the aftermath of the parading and rioting at St Patrick’s Chapel in Belfast.
Members queried why the bottle banks at the Community Centre, Circular Road, have been removed and where have they have been relocated to? Branch Chairman John Duggan said: “These three bottle banks were greatly used… many pensioners who live in both the St Malachy’s and Drumee Estates and those up Church Avenue who are unable to get to the Amenity Centre at the Bann Road, have complained profusely at their removal. This is an ideal location – handy to residential areas but at the same time screened from the road. It is very important that this facility for all of the community is re-instated.”
The meeting discussed effects of the price of oil. Since July, home heating oil has increased by 7p per litre. This was felt to be a huge increase especially with the redundancies/ job cuts that are taking place in the area given that the price of crude oil is falling. The Branch agreed to refer the matter to the Energy Regulator. The price of electricity was also discussed and the fact that Power NI have announced a recent 4% reduction in the price of electricity even though electricity shot up last annum by 18%. So whilst this is to be welcomed we are still paying significantly more than we were.
John Duggan welcomed Councillor Carmel O’Boyle’s recent motion to Down District Council in respect of Human Rights and trafficking. He said the branch put a similar motion to the SDLP Party Conference a few years ago adding this was an issue which the Branch as a whole felt very strongly about.
The issue of blocked drains in the District which are clogged up and have weeds growing out of them was also on the agenda. One member said: “We only have to look at what’s happening in England over the past weeks to see the damage that can be done. All of our gullies must be operating at full capacity to even stand a chance against the heavy rainfall.”
At the junction of Commedagh Park and Burrenwood Road, it was reported that there is a pretty constant pool of surface water due to the dip in the road. The Branch agreed to approach the Roads Service and request a drain at this point.
Mr Duggan added: “One member highlighted a free benefit checker scheme being offered by Power NI – a representative from Power NI would call to your home and ensure that you are in receipt of all your entitlements. I would encourage everyone to do this especially those who have recently retired and may not be aware of the assistance that is available.”