Politicians slam ‘fundamentally flawed decision’

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COUNCILLORS for the Antrim Line area have hit out at Roads Service over its plan to push ahead with the controversial Sandyknowes park and ride scheme, despite more than 900 objections.

Describing the move as “a fundamentally flawed decision”, UUP councillor Mark Cosgrove said: “I am at Sandyknowes roundabout most mornings and to suggest that residents approaching via the Ballyhenry Road will not suffer additional delays is not a sustainable argument.

“The democratic deficit in this decision is also very worrying. Rarely have I seen this level of objection but it appears this has been ignored.

“Newtownabbey does need additional park and ride facilities, but surely there must be other, uncongested places in which to build them. I am convinced that this decision will be the source of regret in years to come.”

Alderman John Blair, who only a few weeks ago suggested that Roads Service may not have the funding available to move forward with the plan, said he could hardly believe the Minister’s announcement that the £250k project is to go ahead, given that the department’s resources are so severely stretched.

“My concerns on residential amenity by possible overflow, on-street parking and the traffic impact at Sandyknowes are already known. I am now also very concerned that current plans do not include any gates/barriers or nighttime security for the site. This could cause major problems with anti-social behaviour which has already happened at nearby car parks in recent years,” he commented.

Alderman Blair, along with South Antrim MLA David Ford and several Alliance colleagues, met with Roads Service officials on Friday, December 3 to ask that the issue of security at the site be looked at as a matter of urgency.

SDLP councillor Noreen McClelland said she was “extremely disappointed” that the scheme is going ahead.

“I have listened to residents’ concerns for many years about this proposal. Residents are rightly concerned about the location of the park and ride facility and do not believe it will in any way change the traffic problems they face daily in the area; indeed it may cause more difficulties for both pedestrians and road users,” she told the Times.