East Antrim

On 13 February 2017, Township published its Placemaking Manifesto for Northern Ireland. We emailed every candidate standing for the 2017 Assembly Elections, asking them to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a series of questions based on our 5 policy positions.

Below, you will find the responses from candidates standing in the East Antrim constituency.

Candidate

Party

Housing

Transport

Built Heritage

Participation

Liveability

Transparency

Roy Beggs UUP

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No

Ricky Best Ind

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Stewart Dickson Alliance

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Comments

Housing is essential for a good quality of life. Without a home that is both safe and of a high quality, people experience a detrimental impact on their health, life opportunities and security. Alliance is committed to ensuring everyone living in Northern Ireland has access to a suitable home.

In order to improve the quality of housing in Northern Ireland as a party we will aim to develop a public land register to ensure sites suitable for housing (either private or social) are identified. Furthermore we would aim to develop an Empty Homes Strategy to bring derelict and unused properties back onto the market using legislative proposals and a sustainable funding model to allow revenue from houses brought back into use to be allocated to future houses. As a further important step, we will also urge the UK Government to abolish VAT on all renovations and repairs to existing buildings so that houses can be repaired and refurbished at the same cost as building new homes. 

Moving forward we will also work to ensure any proposed reforms to social housing provision do not jeopardise fairness, quality or diminish equality of access.

Alliance as a party will continue to strive for the setting and delivering of a target to remove all evidence of threat, intimidation and exclusive claims to territorial monopoly, by any group or cause. Mixed and shared housing, at all income levels, must be considered normal throughout the region. There must be robust condemnation of attacks on the homes of people from religious or ethnic backgrounds or on the basis of sexual orientation. There must also be support for victims and active engagement with communities in order to improve levels of integration and cohesion.

We would also seek a requirement that planning policies and community planning make specific proposals to increase shared space. Councils should be responsible for regenerating their communities. As the body charged with local economic development, they will be able to ensure that regeneration is focused around local priorities. We want to see a broad range of regeneration functions being conferred on local authorities. Alliance was disappointed and critical of Minister for Communities, Paul Givan’s decision in November 2016 not to extend the Department’s urban regeneration and community development power to local government.

We will also aim to make best use of European funding programmes (for as long as we have an entitled to the funding programmes) to secure additional money for regeneration.

Investment in public and sustainable transport must be at the heart of our transport priorities. It contributes to our environmental targets and reduces congestion. Alliance is committed to investing in public transport and reforming our infrastructure. One of our priorities for this would be gradually channelling public investment towards transport. This would include rebalancing the way Departmental money is allocated but also seeking out new sources of financing, such as the Green Investment Bank and European funding.

Other priorities include instituting new rules on integrated transport and ensuring access to sustainable transport is considered in major planning decisions and working with councils to ensure that access to public transport is included in community planning.

Alliance is also a vocal advocate of promoting cycling and walking. We believe that there are significant environmental and health benefits to enabling people to undertake short journeys by foot or by bike. The main problem with this is safety and, therefore, the need to rebalance the amount of cycling provision we have on our roads. In order to facilitate this we will develop an Active Travel Bill to promote cycling and walking. By adopting sustainable travel plans we make it easier for cyclists and walkers to get about town. We will especially promote safe cycle routes with bicycle storage and suitable pavements with road crossings to encourage walking. Furthermore we will seek to create a cycling and walking ‘greenway’ network across Northern Ireland.

Q3

Yes. We will work to deliver greater protection for historical buildings and green spaces. By urging the UK Government to abolish VAT on all renovations and repairs to existing buildings, houses could be repaired and refurbished at the same cost as building new homes.

Q4

Yes. It is important to seek the introduction of a limited and qualified third-party right of appeal in planning decisions so that local communities will have the same right to object to planning decisions as developers.

Furthermore we would examine how those developments that have clear economic benefits should receive accelerated passage through the planning system. This is not about rebalancing the planning system in favour of development, but rather expediting critical decisions. It is important that investors have certainty and are not left to wait for prolonged periods while decisions are made.

Q5

Yes. The high street will not be the same as it has been in the past and we will need to reconsider what we want it to look like moving forward in the future. This will mean a mix of shops, cafes and restaurants, residential properties and non-retail businesses. This will help to ensure vibrant community economies despite trends towards out-of-town retail centres and internet shopping. We must also invest in town centres, high streets, local districts and urban villages, not just investment in big projects.

Alliance’s strategy to develop town centres and high streets would include reforming business rates to make it easier for entrepreneurs to establish a business in vacant premises, such as scrapping business rates for the first year for a new business. We would also work to develop a Business Improvement Districts, whereby businesses fund regeneration in their area through a levy on business rates. We will also explore bringing in other new and innovative models of funding and investment.

We will also work to provide easier access for cars and public transport to local high streets and town centres, including promoting free short-term parking. We will also prioritise town centres, rather than out-of-town retail centres, as the preferred sites for retail and business development.

Further

The Alliance Party has decided to voluntarily publish any donation from a single source that is over £7,500.

Political Parties in the UK have to declare these large donations to the Electoral Commission, this information is made public in the rest of the UK. But in Northern Ireland this information is not made public.

We believe that for politics to be open and transparent, political parties in Northern Ireland should fall in line with the rest of the UK.

We publish the declaration form that we give to the Electoral Commission each quarter, and have done so since October 2011.”

Danny Donnelly Alliance

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Alan Dunlop CON

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David Hilditch DUP

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Noel Jordan UKIP

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Gordon Lyons DUP

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Margaret Anne McKillop SDLP

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Oliver McMullan SF

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Dawn Patterson Greens

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Stephen Ross DUP

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Comments

Housing

I have been working with a housing association or the last 18 months in monkstown to deliver more social housing. There will be 22 units with two for those with disabilities.( much needed ) it will be going to planning within two months. These are on a brown fields site. We have also looked at 4 other sites, two of which are brown field. I am total against building in the countryside in the main but support anyone who has a work related need to live near their farm.

Transport.

Public transport or the lack of it in many areas in east Antrim is an issue and needs addressed. We also needed to look at park and rides and the benefits of central parking as well the negativity to those living near these sites. I also support more green way but only after full public consultation mainly those along any preposed area.

Build Heritage.

I have been working locally with some residents of Newtownabbey to try and regain access to an old monastery and grave yard ( last burial was 1959 ) which are on private land. Gaining access to cut back over grown parts to this site is problematic, we will continue to ask NIEA and the council for help to have access guaranteed.

Participation

The reform of planning and the right to third party appeal is some thing I think is needed to protect local residents from big business. I recently see this at first hand were a planning application with hundreds of objections and 250,000 online objectors was ignored and when passed the objectors which I was one had no avenue of travel only through the courts and as big business realise many if not all citizen can not financially afford this, so they win totally wrong. I did send a letter to the chief planner removing my self from the decision making at the very beginning of my work alongside the objectors. Conflict of interest as with all committees is open to abuse knowingly or unknowingly by that person. Hard to fix but it is raised at most planning committee meeting on which I sit on.

Liveability.

As you are well aware all councils are developing a local development plan for the next 25 years. Only through consultation, local knowledge and the desire not to make the same mistakes of the past can our communities benefit from this plan. Open space which has been allowed to become over grown or used as a dumping ground is something that continues to be raised with council unable or unwilling. We need to put in place measure which will make it easier to enforce those who refuse to cooperate and not through a lengthy legal battle taking years.”

Conor Sheridan CCLAB

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Comments

From the moment that I decided that I would start politics, I was involved in schemes that could make east antrim a more enjoyable place to live in. I have organised clean ups and have helped organise cathy culture nights where it not only provided entertainment for the people of Larne but it provided a boost for the local economy with some small cafes reporting that sales had doubled but it also provided a stage for local artists in the area to perform.  To answer your questions:

– housing has been a challenge in East Antrim and in particular the village of Glenarm. I want to build affordable houses there so that young people can still live close to family and friends. I do believe in reviving existing areas too. A big problem is the fact that the premises are privately owned and the landlords will not accept anything else other than top rate especially when they know that the government is interested. So I would be reviewing my options to try and see if we could write new legislation for the government to take over derelict buildings.

-infrastructure- I support investment into promoting cycle lanes in the city. I have been in contact with ni greenways to try and make this happen.  This does though include supporting the idea of charging  £10 per head which is nothing compared to the benefits. With more bicycles we help alleviate the high co2 emissions in our city centres and ease congesion. Finally I want to push for a railway to the international airport to connect our busiest airport to the rest of ni.

-build heritage – I do support this concept too as our listed buildings are the buildings that give our towns character and are full of history and if used in the correct way can attract tourism.

-participation- I support this too as I am adamant to change planning laws. In Carrickfergus I encountered many things that needed changed with loopholes appearing that companies could exploit for example fracking.  Clause 16 needs to be tightened in particular.  The other issue that I encountered was the lack of advertising for a public consultation as they aimed to widen a road beside a school where school children have been knocked down with the idea of building on a site that had historical relevance after they found stuff there which has thankfully suspended building allowing for residents and the public to actually givery their opinions. 

Liveability – elected or not, I continue to find ways to make life better for everyone by organising more events in town centres to regenerate the towns and as you can tell from my long responsored.  I do love trying to do stuff to make our town centres better.

John Stewart UUP

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Ruth Wilson TUV

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