22 May 2022

NEWS IN BRIEF: Broadband boost for Feeny, development work in Ballinascreen and council support for animal welfare

Short snippets of news from around the county.

NEWS IN BRIEF: Broadband boost for Feeny, development work in Ballinascreen and council support for animal welfare

After a campaign, Feeny and Park will see a broadband upgrade.

Fibre partnership pays off in Feeny

Feeny and Park are to receive Super Fast Broadband after the community met their quota of residents pledging their government vouchers to Openreach.

The broadband provider confirmed last week that enough homes and businesses in the area had pledged their Gigabit Broadband Voucher to the scheme.

Cllr Kathleen McGurk said the scheme could be delivered by the end of 2021.

“Well done to everyone who signed up to the Feeny & Park Community Fibre Partnership scheme,” she said.

“Openreach have now confirmed that the target has been met now to deliver the scheme.

“They hope to be on the ground by the summer with everything delivered by the end of the year! Superfast broadband here we come!”

Work planned for Ballinascreen

Improvement work is set to begin on the Plantin and Fairhill amenity space in Ballnascreen, with the project expected to be completed by June 2021.

The work will include lighting around the Plantin pathway, cutting of trees and hedges, cleaning of existing paths, fencing and an upgrade to the Fairhill.

Local councillor Catherine Ellatar has welcomed the developments.

“Hopefully the community will all be able to enjoy walks round the Plantin in the summer and maybe have a relaxing picnic in the Fairhill after,” she said.

“It will be good to see these works finally starting and this valuable resource becoming more opened up to the community to enjoy.”

Council support animal welfare register

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council are to write to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in support of a motion on animal cruelty.

The decision was taken at last week's Environmental Committee in repsonse to correspondence received from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council (ANBC).

The letter called for councils to support their motion by writing to DAERA asking for the introduction of an Animal Welfare Offenders' Register for those convicted of animal cruelty.

ANBC have also asked the Department to make a list of licensed dog breeders publicly accessible.

Bann councillor, Richard Holmes, spoke in favour of the proposal.

“There's an awful lot more than you think,” he said.

“Every now and then you see a horrific case coming through, maybe horses left starving in fields, but when you look at the numbers, there are thousands of cases every year investigated by councils.”

Cllr Holmes motion to write to DAERA and local MLAs in both constituencies covered by Causeway Coast and Glens in support of the ANBC motion was unanimously supported.

Leisure centre to receive accessible changing facility

A County Derry leisure centre is among three local centres who have been given the green light to install an accessible changing facility.

Maghera Leisure Centre will receive the 'Hi-Riser' bench as part of a £16,828 project under the Department for Communities Access and Inclusion Programme.

Plans for the rollout were approved for the 'Hi-Riser' benches at a meeting of Mid Ulster District Council's Development Committee last week.

The benches are electronically operated wall-mounted changing tables that are suitable for children and adults of up to 200kg.

They are designed to be used with most mobile or ceiling hoists, facilitating transfers from a wheelchair, shower or toileting chair.

Making the Transition from Rossmar School

Zoe and Brandon, students at Rossmar school in Limavady, pictured with Careers Coordinator Miss Shona Laverty after their recent Transitions Fair which was held online this year. Students, parents and teachers all tuned in for the fair which was held over Zoom.

Kilrea group hears of Air Ambulance work

The members of Kilrea Women's Institute met again on Zoom for their February meeting, with 36 participants, including Executive member Mrs Helen Jamieson, and four guests from the Air Ambulance NI.

Grace Williams, the charity's area fund-raising manager, gave a most interesting PowerPoint presentation about the work of the Air Ambulance NI.

Since its inception in July 2017, the crews have dealt with over 1900 serious trauma cases.

The service works in conjunction with the 999 emergency call centre which receives around 600 calls per day.

Based at the Maze, the Air Ambulance costs about £2 milllion per year to operate and relies almost entirely on the generosity of the public.

Although the present pandemic has hit fundraising badly, several upcoming events will hopefully bring in much needed funds: the virtual Belfast Marathon and the Boost online competition. A question and answer session followed.

Pamela Henderson then gave a very comprehensive vote of thanks.

Several members shared their recent lockdown projects: knitting, crocheting, and stone-painting.

Entries were submitted for the competition, A Safety Tip.

Members were delighted to be able to meet via Zoom in the comfort of their own homes, since it was such a snowy night.

All agreed that keeping in touch is so important during these challenging times.

President Ann Laughlin thanked everyone for attending and for continuing to encourage each other in so many ways.

Sheerin calls for support for local workers

Mid Ulster MLA Emma Sheerin has this week renewed her calls for financial support particularly for those working in services, construction, manufacturing, maintenance and engineering, who have up until this point been excluded from support. 

The South Derry representative referred to the Department of Health’s underspend, and how this money could be redirected into the pockets of working people across the north who have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 financial pressures.

"I have written to Robin Swann to ask that he create a scheme for workers from the £90 Million underspend that has been well documented in recent weeks," she said.

"I’ve been inundated with calls from people either self-employed and working in one of these industries, or an employee of a local firm who have found themselves excluded from any financial help when forced to self-isolate.

"For example, supermarket staff, who cannot afford to self-isolate and are working in situations whereby they could be in close contact with hundreds of people every day.

"For someone to be expected to live on Statutory Sick Pay, which amounts to £95 a week, is totally unrealistic in 2021, but unfortunately that is what those who are self-isolating are expected to do.

"Our local employers are being asked to cover national insurance and pension contributions, as well as their ordinary over heads, with no guarantee that costs will be reimbursed. 

"None of us asked to be in this pandemic, and the stress and strain it has caused in terms of the mental health implications and grief within our community is bad enough, without people having an additional money worry now."

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