Tackling the issue at both a local and regional level, the pair have been raising residents’ concerns in an attempt to find solutions so that improvements can be made ahead of the colder winter months.
David Ford said: “Last year I wrote to the Minister for Regional Development to raise concerns, brought to me by residents, around the department’s response to severe winter weather. To many people, in the worst hit areas of Newtownabbey, it is simply unacceptable to go through the level of disruption which is now taken for granted every year. More can be done to meet residents’ concerns.
“Despite my efforts, the Minister made it clear that he is content with the current winter services policy. Yet, earlier this year we once again experienced an unacceptable level of disruption due to severe snow. I have now written to Danny Kennedy, urging his department to work more closely with the local council to find solutions to this recurring problem. I was pleased to receive a more positive response to this and hope it brings about progress this winter”.
Councillor Blair said, “I have raised this issue with local roads section engineers, however, it is clear the policy is set at a higher level and local concerns in Glengormley have not been fully heard. Scenes like those in March of this year are not acceptable, with many of our more vulnerable residents being cut off from essential services.
“In March of this year, many residents were cut-off from essential services until Roads engineers and council staff worked together to clear streets and roads. This work was rightly commended but could have been implemented much quicker. However, it is a good example of what can happen when people work together at different levels to find workable solutions, and a basis for seeing improvements in the future.
“I have held meetings with council officers and Northern Ireland Housing Executive officers to ensure a suitable action plan is ready to go in advance of the next severe winter weather and that community groups can, potentially, become involved in this. I am also pleased that Newtownabbey Council has purchased equipment to help deal with this problem on behalf of ratepayers but it remains a fact that the Department need to assess local requirements more realistically.”