Gilford campaign set to go all the way to Stormont

Gilford town centre.
Gilford town centre.

A RECENTLY formed residents’ group in Gilford are heading to Stormont to plead their case for a fair deal with the Planning Minister Alex Atwood.

The Gilford Concerned Residents’ Group asked for an audience with the Minister after the recent approval of a multi-million pound golf resort on Northern Ireland’s north coast.

An application for the resort was approved despite major concerns in the area, and the Gilford group have contrasted that decision with the controversial refusal of a similar application for Gilford more than five years ago.

More than 2,500 residents signed a petition in 2007 urging the Planning Service to reverse its decision to turn down the £25m plan for a Gilford Castle Golf Club and Academy.

The group now want to know why the less ambitious scheme for Gilford was turned down by a previous Minister in 2006.

Group members Timothy Mayes, Roy Leckey and Aidan Maginn will be accompanied to Stormont by SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly and they will also appeal to the Minister for funds to be allocated for a general tidy-up of the Gilford area, as £400,000 has been allocated to the North West for this purpose.

The group was formed last summer and meetings have taken place on a monthly basis since June 2011. To date the group have lobbied successfully for the following: increased street bin collections, increased floral displays, comprehensive weed spraying programme, as well as the roll-out of a comprehensive hogweed eradication programme. A town centre warden to maintain the tidiness of the area on a regular basis has been agreed by the Banbridge Council.

The group have also lobbied the council on anti-social behaviour and recently extra police patrols have been introduced, with some success.

The Gilford Community Forum has taken a proactive role in the new leisure centre which is due to open in mid-April and the Residents Goup will support this in any way they can.