RESIDENTS in Hillsborough are continuing their campaign to alleviate traffic congestion in the village.
Local people have expressed grave concern about the impact that heavy goods vehicles are having on the historic nature of the Georgian village.
Recently representatives from the local community attended a debate at Stormont, instigated by Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale, who challenged the Roads Minister to address the concerns.
The Stormont debate was well attended by residents from the Hillsborough, Culcavy and Halftown road areas to listen to what the Minister had to say on any proposed solutions.
One local resident, Mr Brian Strong stated that he felt let down by the Minister’s response to the current problems. “Hillsborough and the surrounding roads have become a living hell, with large lorries rumbling through at all hours of the day. Residents no longer feel safe to go about their normal lives and use the facilities within the village.”
He added: “The residents will continue to work with local representatives to make our views heard. Hillsborough was never designed for large amounts of traffic and HGVs and I hope the Minister realises that a solution must be found before a serious accident happens.”
Speaking after the debate, Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale said: “Having worked tirelessly for over 18 months on this issue, I called an adjournment debate to explain the problems faced on a daily basis by those families who live in the area, and to see if the Minister would be prepared to find a long term solution to the issues.
“Many people are aware that Hillsborough is an area of conservation steeped in Georgian heritage and buildings.
“The amount of added traffic coming through the village is detrimental on both built heritage and the lives of those who live in the area.”
Mrs Hale had proposed that a weight restriction through the village would reduce the amount heavy HGV lorries coming through the area, ensuring that they used the road network designed for heavy vehicular traffic.
In reply to Mrs Hale’s claim, the Minister stated that it was his Department’s opinion that “vibrations from heavy goods vehicles did not cause damage to structurally sound buildings, and that Road Service did not consider the number of HGVs that use those roads in Hillsborough as unusually high compared with other similar roads.”
Mrs Hale stated after the debate that “whilst I welcome the Minister’s invite to address concerns regarding current issues and future developments, he must recognise that the buildings in Hillsborough are from the Georgian period and as such have been given protected status.
She further added “that the issues of safety in the village and the damage and nuisance being caused by HGVs, which could use arterial routes, needed urgently addressed.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Regional Development said the concerns of local residents were being listened to: “Road Service is aware of the issues and concerns among the residents of Hillsborough and their elected representatives and we are working hard to address those concerns in respect of the current issues and future developments in and around the village,” she said.
“Local concerns are being listened to and Roads Service is currently considering the results of a residents’ survey on proposals for traffic calming measures on the Culcavy Road.”