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Assembly Speech- Comber Greenway 6/10/2008

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Mr Speaker / Deputy Speaker
I rise to support the motion.
Whilst I welcome this debate I find it difficult to understand the motivation, and indeed the acceptance of this as a private members motion with many members seeing it being more suitable as a motion for an adjournment debate.

DO I HAVE TO DECLARE AN INTEREST IN THIS MATTER A REGULAR USER OF THIS WALKWAY AND ENJOY THE WALKS ALONG THE ROUTE?

AS A REGULAR USER WITH MY DOGS I WANT TO SAY THAT I DON’T SEE THE MASSIVE NUMBERS MAKING USE OF THE ROUTE THAT SOME WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE. BUT LIKE MANY OTHERS I FULLY APPRECIATE THE ROUTE AND THE PLEASANT ENVIRONMENT THAT HAS BEEN CREATED.

On the 3 June 2008 there was a previous debate in the House on this issue and the Minister gave assurances on the future of the Comber Greenway for walking and cycling facilities within the creation of a rapid transport system. One of the proposer’s of today’s motion did not take part in the debate in June. I am not sure on the parts of her speech that I heard if she is in favour of this rapid transit project or she is opposed to it.

In 2003 the work started to lay a new sewer route along parts of the old Comber railway line.

This essential work allowed an opportunity to emerge that was to bring health and recreation opportunities to the people of the area and indeed from wider a field.  This opportunity was the creation of a walking and cycling route along what was always to be a route for a rapid transport system.

The current walking and cycling route was completed in the full knowledge that it would be used as a rapid transport route in the foreseeable future.

This creation of a rapid transport system was debated in, supported in Castlereagh Council and that included members from all the political parties.

The Assembly in previously debating the issue heard from the Minister and I quote “I am confident that proposals can be developed that will not push cyclists and walkers off the route.”

Within the Department for Regional Development’s Corporate Plan 2008-2011 the section on transport Infrastructure in targeting specific audiences confirms; “these will include the promotion of walking, cycling, public transport, car sharing, personal travel planning as well as Park and Ride and Park and Share facilities.

I am confident the DRD Committee will hold the Department to this objective.

If I could finish with these points:
• This rapid transport project is important- a healthy environment is also important.
• Communication with the public is vitally important as this project develops and especially those who live in close proximity to the project.
• The benefits for the economy are obvious BUT must be clearly explained and conveyed to the wider public.
• The quality of the system must be of a high level specification.
• Private sector investment and involvement should be considered.
• Service to the passenger must be of the highest quality.

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