Former Belfast Mayor backs Ritchie cash boost but says it must be new funding

Former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tom Ekin, has welcomed the news of a 7million pound funding package announced today by Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie, aimed at boosting disadvantaged areas of Belfast. However, Cllr Ekin said he hoped this cash was new money, because he said that there are already arterial route upgrade schemes being run by Belfast City Council.

The Balmoral Alliance Party Councillor said: “This is a welcome announcement, provided it will result in genuine improvements to areas that need it most. Local people deserve a fair deal and hopefully this scheme will provide a boost for the city.

“However, I have one question – Is today’s funding announcement new money?

“There are already arterial route upgrade schemes being run by Belfast City Council. This new scheme needs to be extremely well co-ordinated. The Department of Social Development must ensure that they work closely with the City Council, the Housing Executive, local residents and local businesses to produce the best possible results.

On Margaret Ritchie’s remarks on peacelines across Belfast, Cllr Ekin said: “Margaret Ritchie needs to have a radical vision and should make plans which will, when safe and feasible, see the removal of peacelines and the legacy of segregation that goes with them.

“She must consider setting a timetable on the removal of the of these peacelines which have blighted many of our communities for decades.”


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