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State of footpaths and play parks a bone of contention for councillors

The state of footpaths and play parks in the borough was the ire of many members at a recent ABC Council meeting.

For a start, the Waringstown footpaths controversy shows no sign of abating, and Councillor Kyle Savage (UUP, Lagan River) has now called for a meeting to be set up to address this issue.

The Lagan River representative requested such a meeting at Monday night’s full council meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon (ABC) Borough Council (February 26).

Sections of the new footpath, past Waringstown Primary School gates and the Mace shop, are particularly treacherous and slippery, it has been claimed.

Councillor Savage stated at the meeting: “I’ve raised concerns about a previous project that was done in Waringstown. I just wanted to know if there’s any update and request that a meeting be set up with the head of department, DAERA, who was the funder for that project, and also the design team, because there’s a lot of problems and issues with this. It needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

“We have tried to get this resolved over the last year so, but to no success. So it needs to be brought out in the open and sorted out once and for all.”

Interim strategic director, Community & Growth, Caroline Leonard, told councillor Savage: “We’ll certainly produce a report and get a meeting organised as soon as possible to follow up on this matter.”

Councillor Scott Armstrong (DUP, Armagh DEA) called for existing pathways to be properly maintained: “I don’t sit on this committee, but I would like to raise a few points on [this].

“While I’m supportive of what is being proposed here, I have a bit of a problem with what we already have in our Active Travel ways, in that they are not being maintained and kept in a reasonable condition within our borough.

“I’ve raised a couple of times about an area in my DEA, the Killylea Road, it’s a six-mile footpath that takes you from Armagh City Centre to Killylea, and then further on to Caledon, and that is used by a lot of people throughout the summer months. I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks in particular the state of the footpaths. They’re not in great condition, whether that’s overgrown verges or hedges, or the footpath itself is full of potholes.

“We need to have a plan in place so that our footpaths are maintained by council, in conjunction with DfI, to ensure that what we have is already of a good standard, while also implementing new ideas and bringing in new Active Travel ways.

“So that’s something that the council can maybe look at, and bring back a report to the committee, whether it’s this one or the Environmental Services Committee. I’ll be more than happy to work on that.”

Senior council officer, Caroline Leonard replied: “I’m happy to pick up that matter and liaise with council colleagues in Environmental Services as well, and to understand what can be done.”

Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon (SDLP, Armagh DEA) felt that maintaining existing footpaths and play parks should be the priority: “We have been doing quite a bit of work on footpaths in the edge of town in the Armagh/Keady area, and I understand that that particular stretch is in a future part of the programme.

“Why did we let footpaths get into that state in the first place? Councillor Armstrong is right, we shouldn’t be in that scenario. We do the exact same with play parks. We invest in a whole lot of new play parks across the borough, and then we don’t maintain them.”

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