Larne public realm scheme on time

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Larne’s £2.2million public realm scheme project will be completed within the agreed 42-week timescale, says the council’s Chief Executive.

The scheme, which will have an additional five-week Christmas moratorium period, is expected to be complete by the end of June 2016.

At a meeting on Monday, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Chief Executive Anne Donaghy said that the scheme would make the town centre “fit for purpose”, and that a PR campaign would be developed in conjunction with local traders.

The public realm scheme will involve the provision of stone kerbs, stone paving, semi-mature tree planting and the supply and installation of street furniture, signage, street lighting and feature lighting.

Mrs Donaghy said that the start date for contractors Northern Ireland Water and Northern Ireland Electricity had been brought forward to August 10, and that they had been given instructions to ensure the scheme was completed on time.

During a discussion on the public realm schemes in Larne and Ballymena, Mrs Donaghy said the two projects would help council tackle its priority of economic growth.

Welcoming the fact that the public realm schemes were on time, Deputy Mayor Timothy Gaston said that he was “slightly disappointed” that a PR scheme had not yet been put in place, and urged council to “treat this as a matter of urgency”.

“It is important that the communication lines with traders remain open and we deal with their problems quickly and effectively,” he stated.

Council officer Aidan Donnelly said the council had taken time to talk to traders and that they were ready to progress the £7,000 PR scheme pending council approval.

Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Maguire queried why the discussion on the public realm schemes was to continue in reserved matters, from which the press was excluded.

“This should be dealt with in full council, there is far too much goes on in reserved matters for my liking,” he stated.

Mrs Donaghy stated that the issues to be discussed in committee were “confidential”.

DUP Councillor Gordon Lyons said that he had discussed the scheme with Larne town centre traders.

“They are looking forward to the scheme being completed, they are not looking forward to the work but the understand it will take time,” he stated.

“I’m pleased the marketing plan will be in place for Larne.”

Cllr Lyons said it was important that councillors were “upbeat and positive”.

“Both of these schemes will be of great benefit to the towns,” he concluded.