From the pages of the Down Recorder, November 15, 2000

From the pages of the Down Recorder, November 15, 2000

11 November 2020

BALLYHORNAN – Sewage from over 100 homes outside Downpatrick is being pumped untreated into the sea off Ballyhornan in open contravention of strict European regulations.

The 300 residents now living in the former RAF base at Bishopscourt are being forced to endure a World War 2 sewerage system because no-one will take responsibility for the problem.

The Water Service is refusing to adopt the sewerage system, claiming it is up to those who bought the former camp to remedy the situation.

But politicians, including South Down MP, Eddie McGrady, and local residents, say it is up to the Water Service to provide residents with a modern, safe system and have described what is happening as an environmental time bomb.

In addition to sewage being pumped into the sea at Ballyhornan, which Down Council wants to market as a key tourist area, surveys have revealed the network of sewers at the former RAF base is a poor state.

Mr Gerry Young, the secretary of the Ballyhornan Community Association, said it is vital someone takes responsibility for the sewers and ensures they are upgraded. He also warned urgent steps are required to stop raw sewage pouring into the sea off the nearby coastline.

“Everyone in the area is well aware of the problem and the impact it is having on the environment. The situation would simply not be allowed to happen in any other European country and the residents of Bishopscourt are entitled to have this issue taken on board,” he declared.

NEWCASTLE – The controversial merger of two Newcastle primary schools has been given the green light by the Department of Education.

Following five months of deliberation, the Department has given the amalgamation of St Mary’s Girls and Boys Primary Schools its official seal of approval.

The decision to locate a co-educational school at the boys’ site in September follows months of tense debate between education officials backing the proposal and a group of parents rejecting the idea.

Some parents were angry they had not been fully consulted about the merger and claimed there would be access problems and a potential flooding risk if a larger school was located at Beechfield Park.

The Department’s final decision to push forward with the scheme has been welcomed by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools which originally backed the merger as a means of protecting the future of local Catholic education.

The move towards amalgamated premises is also expected to safeguard several teaching posts which have been under threat as a result of falling enrolments.

BALLYNAHINCH – Work on a new construction scheme to address a major flooding problem in Ballynahinch, is expected to get underway next year.

The Department of Agriculture’s Rivers Agency is currently seeking bids from specialist firms to carry out the work in the market town which will result in the major regrading of the Ballynahinch River.

The work will focus on a 1,000 metre stretch of the river which runs through the heart of the town where contractors will carry out improvement work to large sections of the bank.

Advertisements seeking expressions of interest were placed in Belfast newspapers last week and they explain that access to and from the development site will be through busy urban areas.

Firms keen to carry out the work are being asked how they can overcome this problem, in addition to addressing major access problems, traffic conflict and working in a restricted space.

Work on the project is expected to take three months to complete and get underway on April 1.

CROSSGAR – Residents in the Crossgar area are being invited to take part in a public meeting in the town next Tuesday night.

The special session in the village’s community centre has been organised to provide local people with an opportunity to air their views on planning issues.

The meeting, which has been called by the Crossgar Community Association, comes in the wake of Down Council’s Down 2010 initiative which aims to produce a 10-year development programme for the area.

The Crossgar meeting also takes place as senior planning officials are currently putting together the new Down Area Plan which will impact on Crossgar and the surrounding area.

DOWNPATRICK – Prayers will be said in churches across the district this Sunday for the retention of lifesaving services at the Downe Hospital.

The day of prayer takes place on the eve of a crucial meeting on the future of local hospital services being held in the Down Leisure Centre.

Hospital campaigners are hoping people will support the event and turn up in their thousands to the public meeting the following evening which has been called by the Hayes Review team.

It has been appointed by Health Minister Bairbre de Brun to examine the future of acute hospital provision across the Province and next Monday night’s public meeting is the latest in a series it is organising.

The team is being spearheaded by Downpatrick man, Dr Maurice Hayes, and hospital campaigners are hoping the people of the area will leave him in no doubt about the need for crucial lifesaving services to be retained and enhanced in the town’s promised new hospital.

ARDGLASS – Mothers in the Ardglass area have been urged to maintain their support for local maternity services.

The appeal was made during a special information session at Ardview House last week when it was explained that Downpatrick’s baby unit will remain open for several more years.

Under current Government plans, the unit is to be demolished to make way for a new hospital which will not provide obstetric or lifesaving services.

Hospital campaigners are opposing the move and hope to convince Health Minister Bairbre de Brun that the town’s promised new hospital should provide all lifesaving services and a new 14-bed maternity facility.

KILLYLEAGH – The company behind the £35m plan to build exclusive new homes and a marina at the Gocean area of Killyleagh is to spell out its plans to local people.

Representatives from Ravenblack Developments have confirmed they plan to discuss their proposals with concerned residents at a special meeting which is to be held at the Bridge Community Centre in the town next February.

The company plans to send its senior executives to the meeting which has been called in the wake of major public concern about the controversial plan which has already resulted in the bulldozing of five acres of mature woodland.

Detailed drawings indicating the size and scale of the Gocean design are to go on display in Killyleagh library later this week to provide local people with a chance to study them at first hand.

CASTLEWELLAN – Planting of the world’s largest hedge maze finally got underway this week at a special tree planting ceremony in Castlewellan Forest Park.

BBC celebrity, Rose Neill, was joined by Down Council chairman, Albert Colmer on Monday to help plant one of the first trees in the Province’s peace maze.

Three prize-winning schoolchildren, who took part in a Province-wide design competition earlier this year, proudly watched as their designs, once only paper sketches, began to take form.

Monday’s tree planting event represented a culmination of almost two years of hard work, which included putting the funding together, selecting a site, designing the maze and finally laying it’s foundations.

The maze is due to officially open in the spring 2001.