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Newry City Councillor, Cllr Michael Savage has spoken of  progress made in the Newry City Centre Regeneration Scheme and 15 Acre Park at the Albert Basin following Council meetings in late September and says the city and district stands on the brink of real transformation but that ratepayers “deserved to be given the facts and not whipped up by spin.”

Cllr Savage said: “I believe it is important to clarify a number of points so that ratepayers are dealing with the facts and not the spin some people feel they can put on them for short term electoral gain without any regard for their responsibilities as a Councillor and their obligation to be truthful to the ratepayers.

“Firstly monies cannot be diverted from the City Deal projects to the Park they are two separate entities and over £130 million of investment is coming to our city and district on the back of signing off the City Deal Proposal Package. The package is one piece of a huge funding jigsaw which is delivered as the sum of all parts. Time and again Councillors have been told this. It cannot just be ignored. To say anything else flies in the face of reality.

“The proposal put forward to move monies was rejected as it goes against the governance structures and Code of Conduct Councillors are compelled to work under. The Councillor who proposed this knows this but still continued in pursuit of a headline. In real terms the proposal was not deliverable and was voted down accordingly."

Speaking about the site for the proposed Civic Centre Cllr Savage said “There are genuine concerns about the site of the Civic Centre which are acknowledged and recognised and the SDLP ensured that if the proposed site becomes unworkable an alternative site can be sought. That is now enshrined in the decision and was proposed for inclusion by the SDLP. Those concerns can now be addressed through enhanced engagement and dialogue with the public including religious organisations which has also been agreed.

Cllr Michael Savage.
Cllr Michael Savage.

“However our staff deserve to work in 21st Century offices, wherever they end up being located, as Monaghan Row is no longer fit for purpose and we have a duty of care to our staff not to mention a duty to try and attract the decentralisation of Civil Service jobs to our city and district. Why can’t we work towards the development of our city and ensure we deliver a world class Park that is the envy of every city in Ireland but also provide our staff with fit for purpose offices?

“There is still huge work to do to and dialogue to be had to deliver all elements of Newry Regeneration before we get to the Detailed Business Case Stage and huge work to do to deliver the Park through outline and detailed business case. This week we moved all projects forward significantly but in a manner that creates the space for enhanced dialogue and engagement that creates a sense of partnership, brings our citizens with us and ensures their concerns are heard and listened to.

“We also agreed to appoint the Consultant Economists to develop the Outline Business Case for the Park and for mapping to be carried out to see where significant engineering and environmental improvement costs can be reduced and to identify how we can speed the process up so we can move things forward to have boots on the ground and excavation started on the Park as soon as possible to deliver Phase One. 

“We have spoken with the engineering experts at length and the Park is a huge body of work and this week we started that work in earnest. The scale of work that has to be done on the Park is massive but Council is committed to delivering it and we are getting on with it.

“In order to take the Park through Planning and secure and allocate funding to develop and excavate the 15 acre site we need to complete the Outline Business Case so anyone saying this is anything other than a statement of intent and action by Council is not being honest with the people and is whipping up emotions needlessly.

“This is what moves the Park forward not a political stunt that attempts to move money from one project to another that cannot be moved due to it being ring fenced as part of the multi million pound stimulus Regional City Deal for our city and district.

“The SDLP has moved every stage of the Park’s development through the process to date that is a matter of record and we did that again by proposing the movement to Outline Business Case this week and we remain more committed than ever to delivering it. The Park is now moving through the stages of delivery.

“My job and that of all Councillors is to work to progress every stage of the Park through Council within the governance and procurement structures we are compelled to adhere to.

“This is happening and this week’s decision was a very positive one and a major step forward for our Park yet others who advocate that they want to deliver the Park don’t seem to understand that or simply choose to ignore it.

“The Park is the SDLP’s priority for Newry and our actions this week reflect that as it moved the project forward to OBC stage which will then lead to funding being allocated and work started.”

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    James McConvile · 13 days ago
    So so disappointing Michael that you continue the Double Speak on the Newry Park Project.  I used to look up to the party of Hume and Mallon growing up and now I don't recognize it.
    “This is happening and this week’s decision was a very positive one and a major step forward for our Park yet others who advocate that they want to deliver the Park don’t seem to understand that or simply choose to ignore it"

    I am one of those park advocates you are referring too and I can assure you Michael it is you and the SDLP who do not understand the project.
    Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is currently allocating 36 times more money towards its own New Council Offices instead of the Newry City Park Project. 

    Of the current monies allocated to Newry Regeneration 8 million is from city deal money and 26 million is from rate payers (your voters). That is more than 3 to 1 plus I see the bill is rising further from this week's Newry reporter. I even emailed the city deal guys to ask if you can amend an application during the process and they said you can. What you a saying about fixed briefs is a red herring.
    You approved £20 million to a civic centre several years ago without a business case, plans or even an agreed site. This looks awful politically. One rule for us (politicians) , one rule for them (ratepayers). I mean are SDLP trying to lose the next election? I really don't understand your strategy.  A new park for a parkless city is clearly going to be a massive boost to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Newry. Approve the seed funding and do the business case simultaneously. 
    This statement is misleading waffle from you and the Newry SDLP.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Damian · 14 days ago
    What a load of waffle from sdlp and reps. They spin but as I have said before, this smacks off a corrupt council. Who is getting the work and monies from said regeneration? 


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