A spokesperson for the Albert Basin Park Project has spoken of his concerns about the lack of progress on what he called "agreed actions" since the previous Task and Finish Working Group meeting in March. The Albert Basin site has been derelict for around 20 years.

The group last met 13 August in Newry and Brian Cleland, Chairman, Newry 2020 and a member of the Albert Basin Park Task and Finish Working Group said "At last week's meeting of the Albert Basin Park Working Group, we were very concerned to hear that there had been little progress on agreed actions since the last meeting in March. Commitments that have not been delivered include: public consultations on a play-park and outdoor recreation strategy for the site, permanent signage at the entrance, finalised governance arrangements, approval for a popup park, and the appointment of a project manager"

The Albert Basin site
The Albert Basin site

Newry 2020 initiated the campaign for a public park and received around 14000 signatures from members of the public three years ago. The Task and Finish working group are tasked with producing a 15 Acre public park on the Albert Basin site in Newry following a unanimous decision by Newry, Mourne and Down Council to back a motion for the 15 acre park in December 2017.

The Full Motion text - passed in December 2017

'This Council confirms its commitment to a full, 15-acre community park project on the Albert Basin site in Newry. The Council recognises that the Albert Basin site was given to the people of Newry in 1986 and that a commitment was given at that time to develop it as a recreation and amenity area for the generations of the future. It also recognises the work of community activists in presenting their plans for the park through a petition with over 10,000 signatures.

Council commits to delivering a park in parallel with other capital works projects in Newry within the next Council term. The Council shall within 3 months establish a task and finish group reporting to the Capital Projects Working Group, consisting of elected members, community representatives and a dedicated Council officer to establish plans to move the Albert Basin park project forward and investigate funding options’.

Mr Cleland said "We made it clear to officers and elected members that the lack of progress was unacceptable and that the Council's approach to the project needed to change.

"The Council's apparent lack of urgency with regard to the Albert Basin Park stands in sharp contrast to their enthusiasm for other capital projects, including new council offices at Abbey Way.

"Why is this? Which of these projects is more important to Newry ratepayers? Do the Council's priorities truly reflect the needs of the local community?"
These are questions that urgently need answered."

Despite their stated lack of progress to date Mr Cleland spoke of what was discussed at the most recent meeting.
At the August task and finish meeting the Newry 2020 Chairman said that the group was told that the Land Contamination Report is close to completion, and that  "it was agreed that the report should be presented to the group before councillors were asked to make decisions on it."

The group were also presented with a vision for a state-of-the-art play-park that should go out to public consultation in the near future.

Mr Cleland also added "Councillors on the group also reaffirmed their full commitment to building a 15 acre park on the site as a matter of urgency."

It was also agreed that representatives from Newry Maritime Association and IWAI Newry and Portadown will be added to the Working Group.

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