From the pages of the Down Recorder, April 4, 2001

From the pages of the Down Recorder, April 4, 2001

31 March 2021

BINS — Industrial action is looming over Down District’s refuse collection service as relations between Down Council and its bin men slumped to an all-time low this week.

Trade union officials are to decide over the next week whether to ballot the council’s 30 refuse collectors on a possible over-time ban which would cause severe disruption to collections across the district.

Council managers and the bin men have been at loggerheads over pay and conditions for the past 18 months but the situation deteriorated this week 

mid allegations of bullying by managers and intransigence among the bin men.

The results were felt in Downpatrick on Monday when hundreds of householders found their bins unemptied after a lorry broke down for five house. Normally bin men would work into the evening to clear such backlogs, but on Monday they left work at their normal time of 5.45pm.

The bin men have for months been warning that Down Council’s fleet of bin lorries is in an “appalling condition” and subject to continuous breakdowns. They say it is because they have been prepared to work long hours that full collections have been maintained. 

Senior council officials are to hold a crisis meeting this afternoon in a bid to prevent a deterioration, conscious that further problems could take place at Easter. 

BALLYNAHINCH – Part of the main Ballynahinch to Newcastle Road was sealed off yesterday morning as the security forces conducted extensive searches.

The operation started shortly after 9am when the road was closed from the Millbrook Lodge Hotel to the turn-off for Edendarriff.

A police spokesman said the operation was carried out following reports of suspicious activity in the area. Nothing was found.

DOWNPATRICK – Staff at the Downpatrick Railway Museum are preparing to extend their timetable following the arrival of a brand new train.

The Railbus, on loan from Northern Ireland Railways, will allow the local museum to run midweek train services during the summer season.

The unusual vehicle, as its name suggests, is a bus that can run on railway tracks and is considered an important piece of railway heritage.

The Railbus was one of three prototypes built by British Rail Engineering in Derby in 1981.

Railway Museum secretary Mike Collins said the train was designed as a possible solution to operating light-trafficked branch lines.

“It operated for a year before being purchased by NIR which put it into service on the Coleraine-Portrush branch,” he remarked.

The arrival of the railway bus will come as a 

significant boost for the local museum whose volunteers are preparing for another successful tourist season.

NEWCASTLE – A local councillor has congratulated one of the district’s strongest dramatic groups on the purchase of Newcastle’s Annesley Hall.

After a long battle the Newcastle Glee singers finally purchased the town’s former courthouse where they have been practising and performing since the group was founded in 1951.

Councillor Carmel O’Boyle said she was delighted the group has finally been able to fulfil its dream, adding that the people of Newcastle owe the Glee singers an enormous debt of gratitude for the years of pleasure they have brought to the area.

“Thanks to the extraordinary example shown by the Glee singers, Newcastle 2000, the Friends of the Rock Pool and many others, I believe that our town has finally found its own voice,” she said.

KILLINCHY – A group of residents from the shores of Strangford Lough has vowed to do everything possible to protect the beautiful character of their area.

Claiming the landscape has been blighted by houses and apartment developments which are out of character with the surrounding landscape, members of the Killinchy Rural Preservation Group have called on the planning service to strictly enforce planning regulations.

Since its formation at the start of the year, members have expressed outrage at “disorderly” developments at Killinchy, Whiterock and Ardmillan which they have described as being “unsympathetic to the character and attributes of the area.”

ARDGLASS – The local fishing community has welcomed the Department of Agriculture’s new £21m aid package for trawlermen.

Cash-strapped fishermen in Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie will benefit from the funding which has been designed to help the beleaguered industry over the next six years.

It will also include £5m for a decommissioning scheme which will see a significant number of trawlers throughout South Down ports tying up for the last time.

Down councillor Dermot Curran said local trawlermen were relived by the news of the aid package and he was delighted that the local fishing community could maybe start to anticipate an end to their current hardships.

SCHOOLS — A number of rural schools throughout the district has been asked to consider teaming up with other primaries in an effort to improve facilities for local children.

Crossgar and Derryboy Primary Schools and Academy and Ballycloughan primaries in Saintfield are expected to develop close partnerships as part of the collaborative scheme launched by the South Eastern Education and Library Board. 

Although negotiations are in the early stages, it is expected that all four schools will give the project the green light.

SEELB senior education officer, Mr Stanton Sloan, said the scheme was a “imaginative” way of pooling resources and a real alternative to amalgamation which was sometimes a choice for small rural schools.

Outlining the scheme as a “innovative way to use resources”, Mr Sloan said it had already been successfully implemented in other parts of the United Kingdom. 

CASTLEWELLAN — Local teenagers have once again proven their charitable ability by volunteering to take part in a rigorous programme to help the poor in Romania.

Members of staff at St Malachy’s High School in Castlewellan were expecting a handful of volunteers when they posted an appeal in the sixth form common room looking for students to travel to Romania this summer.

The volunteers were sought by representatives of the Romanian Appeal charity to help clean up a run down orphanage at Vedele.

And although pupils at St Malachy’s were warned that the challenge in hand could be distressing, 26 teenagers rose to the challenge. 

Teachers were then faced with the tough decision of selecting just 10 of the student to take part.

CARRYDUFF — Carryduff Presbyterian Church is set to mark a special weekend on the Christian calendar with a flower festival and craft exhibition.

The festival symbolising the events of Palm Sunday, with floral exhibits indicating the various stages in the process through to the Resurrection, will include the opening of the church’s new vestibule by Rev Dr John Lockington.

The festival, which will begin on Friday, will conclude on Sunday evening with a special thanksgiving service, including music by the Loughside Chamber choir. 

DUNDRUM – Pupils at Downshire Primary School in Dundrum have been crowned Yellow Pages recycling champions of the year.

This is the second year of the initiative, which was entered by schools throughout Down District who competed to collect as many old copies of the Yellow Pages for recycling as possible.

Downshire Primary School collected 115 of the total OF 3,132 Yellow Pages collected across the District.

The collected copies are taken to Lurgan Fibre where they are recycled and turned into egg  boxes, loft insulation, padded envelopes and animal bedding.

DRUMANESS – Funding for a scheme, which will replace a number of old cottages in South Down, has been welcomed by a local politician.

Work commenced this week on the £211,000 scheme which will see the final replacement of four cottages situated on the Cumber Road in Drumaness, and the Magheratimpany Road, Drumaness Road and Newcastle Road.

The cottages were built in 1912 and 1919 and are to be replaced by new two and three bedroom bungalows. Work is expected to be completed by the end of the year.