‘Government must improve conditions for residents’ – McKevitt

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Sunday, May 27th, 2012
SDLP South Down MLA Karen McKevitt has called on the Executive to intervene to improve environmental conditions for people in the Ballyhornan and Bishopscourt areas of her constituency. Speaking during an Assembly debate on the issue, Mrs McKevitt said that the government must take action to improve the sewage system and housing conditions in the area. Speaking to Newry Times, McKevitt stated, “The Ballyhornan/Bishopscourt area is vastly underdeveloped, with serious infrastructural problems in relation to roads and sewage and a substandard water supply. Its regeneration is extremely important to the SDLP and my colleague Margaret Ritchie, MP for South Down, and SDLP Councillor Dermot Curran, have worked on the ground with residents from the area over a long period of time.” She continued, “I am also aware that my colleague Alex Attwood, Minister for the Environment has visited the area and our MP has in recent months made representations to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, urging the Minister to consider Ballyhornan for the Rural Area at Risk scheme. Although at present this scheme is only at the consideration stage I would join with my colleague and express to the Minister the need for it to be implemented, and request that Ballyhornan be considered as a pilot area within the scheme.” “There are serious environmental and health concerns regarding this location. Many of the houses are of poor quality, of those that have been developed and renovated most have been done without involvement of authorities such as building control. Worryingly, asbestos roofing exists in a number of former barracks blocks which poses a potential health risk to local people. The most pressing environmental issue is in relation to the sewage system as we have received reports from residents of regular overflow of the system into homes and gardens.” She added, “The residents from the Ballyhornan/Bishopscourt area have a commendable self-help attitude, and they have taken the lead on helping their area. But in order to make the necessary improvements they require support from Ministries such as DOE, DRD and DARD along with a strong backing from the Executive. I hope that as a result of the debate here today that Ballyhornan/Bishopscourt area will become a priority.”
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