Bangor’s Walled Garden
Originator Austen Lennon
I was first made aware of the dreadful state of our walled garden when an older Councillor started lobbying for it to be turned into a shooting range. Valerie Kinghan and I fought this and once the shooting range proposal was defeated suggestions were made for a 5 aside football pitch.That too was defeated by Valerie and myself. It took almost 10 years to convince our Council that it was to be one of the most important feathers in Bangor’s cap and finally they started to see the light. Now they all want to take credit. But it was Valerie and I who forced it through.
Our Irish Regiments
Originator Austen Lennon
Our men and women of the Royal Irish Regiment.I suggested and proposed this honour for them. I am very pleased to have done so too and it was a very proud day for me and the Council to see them marching through Bangor to the cheers of the people of North Down. The Irish Guards have yet to find time to accept our honour and with all they are doing who can blame them.
Licensing of Door Supervisors
Originator Austen LennonI saw this scheme in England and it proved to be very successful. It gave the men and women training and authority and now any doorman that wants to work in Bangor must hold a certificate of training. Our doorman deserve much more credit than they get. They were there through all the years of the troubles and many of them kept Bangor safe.
Northern Ireland’s own 12 Mile Snipers
Originator Austen LennonMy Father is in this regiment and he made me aware that this was Belfast’s own boys who fought for years in Burma, (The Forgotten Army)The Council held a special lunch and fortunately it was very timely as less than a year later we lost several of the 8th Belfast Commanders.
Stopping The Sewage Works on Groompsort Coast
A major player on the Groompsort Action Group
and the great work of the Groompsort Village Association
This was very much a joint effort with the people of Groompsort. It was a huge fight which some of our own Councillors fought for the sewage works to be built on the coast. Our Green MLA Brian Wilson was one of them. But despite their lack of support the people of Groomsport won the day.
Council Property Smoking Ban
Proposed by Austen Lennon
Not always a popular decision and many smokers may not like the issue but I felt that it was time that the Employees of the North Down Borough Council had the protection from cigarette smoke that many other Councils in England put in place.
Banning Animal Circuses
Originator Austen Lennon
It might surprise some people but I lost this battle twice because the Councillors saw no problem with Animal Circuses. But I kept raising it and thanks to the Children of Ballyholme Primary School I finally won the vote to stop allowing Animal Circuses to use Council property. I also lobbied other Northern Ireland Councils which followed suit. Even Belfast. Unfortunately Sinn Fein has seen fit to overturn the Belfast ban on Animal Circuses.
Stopping Compulsory Fluoride
Originator Austen Lennon
Fluoride was to be imposed upon us in the mid 1990’s. The Councillors at the time were supportive of compulsory fluoridation but the more investigations that I did into the whole aspect of Fluoridation, the less I was convinced that the population of North Down would benefit from this mass medication.It was a very hard fight as, once again, Alderman Wilson was on of it’s main supporters. Finally after many months we managed to dissuade the Water Service from going ahead with the fluoridation scheme.
Cleaning Up Ballyholme’s Dirty Drinking Water
Responsible for major improvements in Ballyholme water supply
Cyclops beetles, Daphnia Water fleas and Naise worms were all resident in the Ballyholme drinking water during the 1990’s. I was ridiculed and belittled when I raised this issue in Council. Older Councillors accused me of frightening elderly people.But I finally managed to get the Water Service to replace the water pipes right down the length of the Donaghdee Road. Some of these pipes were almost closed with gunge. I will not say that the Bangor water is perfect now but it is a lot better than having living insects in your drinking water.
Protecting Portavoe Reservoir
Originator Austen Lennon
Portavoe is a hidden gem just on the other side of Groompsort. Private business men wanted to take it over for hunting. With the help of the fisherman, conservationists, a joint Council committee with Ards and the Groomsport Village Association we managed to pressurise the Water Service to not sell the lake.We now have to fight the fight all over again but the Council has excluded me from their efforts. Apparently I received too much positive publicity last time and that cannot be allowed to happen again.
Honouring the Background Heroes
Originated by Austen Lennon
One of my favourite times of the year. This is a real ‘people’ occasion and the Councillors have now taken it on board with a passion. We see at least 5 people being honoured each year.All of the people honoured are real people with nothing more than the good of their town in mind. It is a real occasion. I got the idea from America where they do a real good job of honouring their local heroes.
After years of disappointing plans for the Bangor Theatre The Arts Committee, under my Chairing, finally thrashed out a plan for a theatre which the Arts Providers of Bangor and The Developer could agree on.Not all is as good as I would like it to be. We can only use the theatre 13 weeks of the year and the building will be multi-purpose and the lease for the theatre will only be ten years. But I feel that, once we get this theatre, we will see a huge growth of the dramatic arts in North Down and the developer will see the benefits to himself and his landlords of using the theatre on a more regular basis and for a longer lease. I also believe that should we ever see The Queen’s Parade Theatre built the theatre would soon become the central hub for Bangor.
New Cultural Committee
Originator of the new Cultural Committee for The Arts & Heritage
The controversial figure above (Pastie Supper Lover) is one which the children of Bangor designed and built and one which I really love. Many people hate it and many people love it. But there is no such thing as Art if it is not talked about.We, in Bangor, have one of the strongest arts scenes in Northern Ireland but it needs a lot more work by the Council to bring it to it’s full potential and we also have many hidden cultural gems. The new Cultural Committee will be able to press for these gems to be made more available to the people, of North Down and now with the responsibility of the Heritage of North Down the committee should make great strides in developing our Christian Heritage and Cultural Heritage. Many arts providers have served on the old Arts Committee and they are the people who should be praised for the strong position with which the Arts Committee now finds itself.
Town Hall Building Poppy
Originator of the Royal British Legion Building Poppy
Manchester Town Hall wore their Poppy with pride when I lived there and as soon as I was elected on the Councillor I proposed that we did the same.The above is a superimposed image of the poppy as the Council still has not taken a good shot of the Castle with the poppy standing proudly.
Eagle Wing Festival
Eagle Wing Festival – Joint founder
This festival, at one stage, boasted of 10,000 in one day. Sadly the festival has lost it’s direction in recent years and I intend to review the way with which we have lost the identity of this festival.I find no fault in the staff or officers regarding this situation but with the Councillors. Once it became popular they started to tinker and it began to lose the real meaning of what it was all about.
10 long years of misery for the residents of the Linear Park before I was able to get these gates in place. I was constantly frustrated and delayed. Fortunately Alex Easton was elected to Council and he convinced the DUP of the need for these gates and we defeated the naysayers.The gates have not cured all the problems but they certainly have helped quite a bit.
Originator – CCTV in Bangor
When I first suggested CCTV cameras to monitor the Town Centre against hooligans, drunks and crime I was loudly derided and the proposal was beaten 15 votes to 3. It took almost 6 years to change the minds of the Councillors and finally the proposal was carried.CCTV is loathed by some people and admired by others and the incompetent way with which the Council handled the matter at the beginning left many people, including myself, despairing. The system is still not what I would like to see but it is functioning and doing the job.
Stopping The Promotion of Alcohol Tourism
Demise of alcohol tourism
For a decade the Council sponsor and promoted events which were heavily reliant on alcohol. The Party on The Pier being the most notorious. Tens of thousands of pounds were spent on bringing low value, high cost, alcohol events to Bangor. This encouraged the very bad name which Bangor earned during the nineties.The original Party on the Pier was proposed by me. I proposed that we have adult concerts on the pier. Unfortunately this idea was taken away and tuned into teenage drink parties with loud bands and dj parties. Finally, after I and one or two others had embarrassed the Council for the forth or fifth time by exposing the drug taking and danger that our young Bangor people were being exposed to, the Council scrapped the event. But not until we spent £22 per person to bring 1,000 young people down to the party on the pier for one event. An event which they paid £12 to enter.
Arresting The Disappearing Sands
Originator Ballyholme Beach Groynes
For years the groynes at Ballyholme beach have been neglected. This has meant that the sand which used to be on the beach nearest the Ballyholme Park has been lost to the tides.Only through constant and repetitive complaints in the Council by myself and Leslie Cree has this problem been taken seriously. The groynes do take a lot of punishment and the situation needs to be monitored closely for the sand to start to return to this area.
Helping Find Lost Pets
PetFind Northern Ireland
Not really a Council function but an important asset to our residents. I created this site and offer it free. This is an online database of lost and found pets in North Down and also acts as a base for people to contact all the agencies once a pet has been lost or found.Being a cat fanatic I felt that a central place to look for lost pets would be useful. This site is now spreading out across Northern Ireland. It is not a profit making site and it is paid for entirely by myself with no income generated.
10 years ago the bricks were about to be laid on the beautiful green area. Fortunately I had the support and assistance of all the residents of Churchill Green and we managed to stop the development at the last minute.As this green belongs to the Housing Executive the Council can take no part in maintaining it. But I believe that after the election the residents should be consulated as to landscaping the green to make it more attractive and the issue of the bonfire needs to be addressed to ensure that all the residents are consulted and that any money which is awarded to the bonfire should go to a Churchill Residents Association.
Council’s First Green Committee
First Ever Environmental Committee in North Down
I proposed the first environmental committee for North Down some 15 years ago. This has taken many different guises since that time and has dealt with a lot of important North Down Environmental issues.Real local issues that affect our everyday live. Not pie-in-the-sky disaster theories which have cost our country billions of pounds.
At each remembrance day I watched our heroes and veterans march through mud and wet grass. It was always a nervous time in case one of our veterans were to fall and it also excluded our disabled veterans from marching.I proposed that we tarmac the areas where our veterans would march. This was expensive and our Council Officers came up with the purchase of hard standing purpose built portable pathways which seem to be doing the trick and allowing our veterans to march with dignity.
I proposed the replacement of the Hamilton Hall some 10 years ago…. but we are still waiting for this hall to be replaced. The time is coming soon and I would predict that we should have a new hall here in the next Council session.
I proposed the disability access to the front of the Town Hall steps some 8 years ago and they are only now going to be installed. It took a lot of discussion and designing to make the step blend into this beautiful listed building.
Protecting The Abbey Archaeological Site
Protecting the Abbey Archeological site
Great finds have been made on the Abbey site and still there was no protection given to this very valuable and historical site.I proposed that the Council gets compulsory consultation prior to any work being carry out on land that it owns in and around the Abbey site. New plans are being discussed to place a very large water tank for capturing rain spill in the Abbey Area….. this needs to be carefully monitored and if allowed to carry on an archeological dig needs to be supervised prior to the tanks installation.
NDBC’s First Police Liaison Committee
Police Liaison Committee
I proposed the first ever Police Liaison Committee which ran right up until the formation of the District Policing Partnership.
Council Facebook Page
I created the Council’s first ever Facebook presence.
I have learnt that The Town Clerk has issued instructions to Council Officers not to comment on this Facebook page. I have also learnt that Party Leaders have also instructed their Party Members not to comment on this Facebook Page.Surely they are not afraid of some criticism?
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