Alliance delegation meets with Secretary of State after flooding

Alliance delegation meets with Secretary of State after flooding

15 November 2023

SOUTH Down MLA Patrick Brown was part of an Alliance delegation which met with Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris last week to discuss the recent flooding in Downpatrick.

He was joined by Alliance leader Naomi Long and MLA colleagues Andrew Muir and Eoin Tennyson.

The meeting came after the Secretary of State announced a £15m financial package for businesses affected by the flooding. 

Last week’s meeting discussed the delivery of the financial package and the need for investment in flooding defences to protect Downpatrick from future flooding.

Mr Heaton-Harris confirmed during meeting that the funding will be allocated to council areas based on need, with local councils deciding how the money will be spent. 

Mr Brown said he was pleased to pose some questions to the Secretary of State.

“The response from him and the UK Government has been unfortunately quite slow but I welcome the new £15m package,” he said.

“The Secretary of State assured me that businesses will receive rate relief and this will be separate to the £15m and this is great news as it will give councils more money to spend to help our town centre.”

Mr Brown said councils will have significant powers in determining how the money is spent.

“Whilst all businesses who have lost out as a result of the flooding should receive financial support, there are questions that still need to be asked about the criteria being used by council’s to access this,” he said.

‘I also raised concerns regarding flood defences to protect the future of Downpatrick town centre particularly regarding the Quoile River and was pleased to hear Mr Heaton-Harris agree that these areas need to be urgently looked at to prevent this from happening again.”

Last week, Mrs Long was in Downpatrick to meet traders affected by the flooding and was joined by Mr Brown, Sorcha Eastwood MLA and Cllr Cadogan Enright.

Mrs Long said she was “saddened” by the devastating impact flooding has had on Downpatrick’s town centre. 

“It’s clear these businesses and charities need financial help delivered as soon as possible and I am hopeful the financial package announced by the Secretary of State is implemented imminently to enable the town centre to reopen,” she said.

“Long term, Downpatrick needs reassurances that this flooding won’t happen again.”