Flooding at popular beauty spot ‘may deter tourists’

Flooding at Oxford Island
Flooding at Oxford Island

FLOODING at Oxford Island could be driving visitors away from Craigavon council’s top tourist attraction, according to an SDLP councillor.

Visitors and staff were angry on Sunday afternoon that yet another flood had caused problems, said Cllr Declan McAlinden.

Oxford Island, which is owned and managed by the council, is a major tourist attraction in the borough and much of the area is designated as a Natural Nature Reserve.

However, Cllr McAlinden said many visitors could not access the facility on Sunday due to serious flooding.

“Sunday is one of the busiest days for Lough Neagh Discovery Centre and depends solely on visitors for income,” he told the Mail.

“At a time when council staff are under severe pressure to reach certain targets, problems like this flooding don’t help.

Cllr McAlinden said he spoke to staff and ‘the few customers’ that were there on Sunday afternoon. He said: “They were very angry that this problem has not been fixed and that the diversion signs were very inadequate and that this has been ongoing for a number of months now!

“Not only was it preventing vital customers from visiting, but members of the public and staff’s car wheels have been damaged as there are a number of potholes in that area.

“Indeed the standard of road leading to Oxford Island leaves a lot to be desired and its about time the council and Roads Service take a good look at this area.”

The flooded road also leads to Kinnego Marina which has a popular sailing club and where many visitors go out on boat and fishing trips.

A spokesperson for the Department of Regional Development said: “Roads Service is aware of the problem and is currently has a contractor on site carrying out investigations to find the cause of the flooding. There is a temporary road closure in operation while these investigations are on-going.”

A council spokesperson said they had been in contact with the DRD over the past two weeks to get the flooding dealt with.

“DRD are currently on site with their tankers pumping the water away and will then be carrying out an investigation into the cause.

“The council had set up a temporary diversion down Waterside Road to ensure visitors to Oxford Island could safely drive around the flooded area.”