Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon is to meet with Newry, Mourne and Down Council leaders to discuss proposed Department for Infrastructure Active Travel Initiatives for Newry.

The project which would have seen the temporary removal of car parking spaces in Hill Street in Newry was supposed to begin this week but has now been put on hold following interventions from Councillors Michael Savage and Gary Stokes along with MLA Liz Kimmins.

Speaking about the initiative Cllr Savage said: “While there has been no announcement yet from SDLP Minister Mallon on the detail of plans for Newry, having spoken to the Minister, she is absolutely clear, that any initiatives should be agreed with the local council and lead by communities for communities. I welcome that the Minister will hold a meeting with Newry Council leaders to discuss the details of any future schemes.

If the DFI has started their pilot scheme on Hill Street this morning they would have had to compete with several other ongoing maintenance projects on the Newry street. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
If the DFI had started their pilot scheme on Hill Street this morning they would have had to compete with several other ongoing non-related projects on the Newry street. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

“I’m delighted to also have received confirmation from the Minister that any scheme will be agreed with the council and will work as a trial. This is about working together to see what works for our local community. And I know Minister Mallon wants to see local agreement and partnership going forward.”

Councillor Gary Stokes added “Both Cllr Savage and I fully support the Minister’s Active Travel initiative across the three cities of Newry, Belfast and Derry. As a cyclist I welcome the fact that Minister Mallon is championing cycling by her initiative to establish improved cycle lane connectivity across our city and it is important that we get it right in Newry.

“I’ll be working with colleagues across council, with department and with the Minister to ensure the views are heard from businesses and the community so we can really get work going that builds a better, cleaner and greener Newry. As Minister Mallon has proved on so many occasions, she works with communities and is willing to build partnerships across the north that address regional imbalance and deliver on the ground - where so many others have failed.”

A spokesperson for Newry BID has expressed their delight that the work had been postponed. "This is as a direct result of support and interventions from Councillors Gary Stokes and Michael Savage and Liz Kimmins MLA who have spoken directly to the decisions makers at the Department of Infrastructure supporting our objections.

"Unfortunately, we don’t yet know how long the postponement is for and we will continue to lobby to have the process stopped.

Council officials and Minister Mallon will be holding a Zoom meeting this week to discuss the matter. The BID spokesperson concluded "Newry BID hope to be given an opportunity to reflect the universal objections of traders."

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