Keep up with Armagh i

Bilingual street sign request deferred as Portadown resident sees council seek legal advice

Efforts for dual English and Irish street signage at Woodside Gardens, Portadown, has seen great efforts by locals to meet legal requirements to proceed

Woodside Gardens, off the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. Credit: Google

A Portadown resident keen to secure bilingual English and Irish street signage at Woodside Gardens has gone to great lengths to meet legal requirements to proceed.

The matter was mentioned at ABC Council’s last planning committee, but debate was treated as a confidential matter, meaning the video feed was switched off.

The application for dual language signage was received last October and deemed valid because at least a third of the people living/working at Woodside Gardens – a street with 10 houses and one commercial premises – had signed a petition requesting it.

The names on the signed petition were verified by the ABC Council using the electoral register.

The local authority then canvassed, by post, all the occupiers of the premises at Woodside Gardens, off the Garvaghy Road.

At that stage, the bar for approval was significantly higher, in that two thirds of occupiers had to approve bilingual signage, bearing in mind that residents failing to return a reply would have been deemed not to be in favour of the application.

As stated above, the applicant applying for dual language signage went to considerable lengths to meet the council criteria for such provision.

The relevant agenda items notes that the applicant was in contact with officers on several occasions to ask about the progress of this application.

The applicant also raised queries with regards to names of persons on the electoral register, but officers are content with the information they extracted from the electoral register for the purposes of this process.

In addition, the applicant mentioned that they had collected and posted back a number of the surveys – which is not in breach of policy.

A total of eight residents, one commercial premises owner and one commercial premises tenant, were surveyed.

Of the nine survey responses received, a total of nine responses were in agreement with the application request for dual language signage  – well above the requisite two-thirds threshold under the policy.

There was one non-return from owners of a property at Woodside Gardens, but the owners have since made contact to state that they adopted a neutral position on the proposal.

Mentioning the agenda item, committee chair, Alderman Glenn Barr explained: “The individuals wish to remain anonymous at this time. They have asked to meet with the head of Building Control Department to discuss the dual language signage policy.

“They wish to express their views on the application which is before us, so I would like to propose that we go to confidential business so we can obtain some legal advice.”

The live feed was consequently switched off for a full 19 minutes, while the matter was being discussed.

When it resumed, Councillor Kyle Moutray proposed the matter be deferred “to allow time for those discussions to take place”.

Councillor Mary O’Dowd agreed and the matter was defered until June 5 committee sitting.

While near-unanimous support has been expressed for bilingual signage – with the exception of one neutral response – it still doesn’t mean that the request for such provision will be automatically granted, as current policy states that the ABC Council will now decide if it is prepared to use its discretionary power to approve the application.

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Portadown