Public Meeting on future plans for Murlough Nature Reserve

ALLIANCE party Councillor Patrick Clarke is encouraging people to attend a public meeting set to address the National Trust’s future plans for Murlough Nature Reserve.

Taking place on Monday, October 29, at 7.30pm in St Donard’s Hall, Main Street Dundrum, the meeting will also address National Trust proposals to increase annual membership fees to drivers.

Councillor Patrick Clarke organised the public meeting with senior National Trust officials, following concerns raised by angry residents in Dundrum over plans to remove a special pass key fob agreement, which costs £23 annually, and admits drivers into Murlough Nature Reserve from Keel Point.

The National Trust wishes existing key fob holders to now upgrade to full National Trust membership at £53 annually.

However over 100 people have signed a petition expressing concern about the proposal which is due to take effect from January 2013.

Many local residents have said they will not take out Trust membership because of the way officials have dealt with the issue in a very high handed manner.

Councillor Patrick Clarke said: “The proposed introduction of full National Trust membership of £53 pounds from January 2013 to local residents of Dundrum to Murlough Nature Reserve has been the cause of much annoyance in recent months, due to the lack of consultation over the proposal.

“Dundrum residents who have held a residents pass for many years to enter their vehicles into Murlough Nature Reserve at an annual fee of £23 are now being informed that they will be required to take out full National Trust membership at £53.

“It is wholly unacceptable to remove a long standing agreement with Dundrum residents, who have used Murlough Nature Reserve, to be forced to take out full National Trust membership.

“On a point of principal I would agree with Dundrum residents that the doubling of entrance fees to the car park area from the North point of Murlough without consultation to key fob holders is ridiculous.

“The National Trust officials have accepted they didn’t perhaps handle this as well as they could have and have now agreed following my request to meet pass holders to explain their plans for Murlough Nature Reserve.

“I have already met with the National Trust on two occasions requesting them to therefore not implement the increase car park charges to the Dundrum residents who presently hold the passes to access Murlough Nature reserve from Keel Point.

“I requested a public meeting with the National Trust in order that the air could be cleared and that pass holders who want to put their points directly to the National Trust officials have an opportunity to do so.

“The public meeting will also give the National Trust the opportunity to present their proposals on future plans for improving Murlough Nature Reserve and the experience of visiting it.”

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