The newly re-elected MP for Lagan Valley, Jeffrey Donaldson, has said there are a number of key issues for people living in Lagan Valley.
Amongst those of greatest importance, he suggests, are the future of the Lagan Valley Hospital, the regeneration of Lisburn City Centre, and the need for additional primary and pre-school places in the north and west of the city.
Mr Donaldson said he was confident that the future of the Lagan Valley Hospital was secure, particularly following the commitment of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to the opening of a Minor Injuries Unit and the relocation of the Lisburn Health Centre.
“It is disappointing that the minor injuries unit is not yet up and running at the Lagan Valley Hospital but I welcome the very clear commitment the Trust have given to proceed with this unit, which, together with the existing casualty services, will ensure the return to 24/7 cover at the hospital,” he said.
“I am planning to meet the new Health Minister to press the case for making the services available that will enable the Trust to open the Minor Injuries unit in the current financial year.
“The Trust are also pressing ahead with the proposed relocation of GP services to the Lagan Valley site, which will result in a much more joined up approach to healthcare needs for the local population. “
Mr Donaldson is also very supportive of the regeneration of Lisburn City Centre. “With the public realm in Market Square nearing completion at long last, we will be able to see and judge the results and I do hope this will contribute to making Lisburn a more attractive retail destination for shoppers,” said Mr Donaldson.
“However, what is clearly needed now is for more shops to open and for Lisburn to develop its retail specialisms so that we are able to attract more local people and more visitors.
“This means broadening the range of retail offer available in Lisburn at the moment and we are actively talking to a number of national outlets about opening in Lisburn,
“We are also talking to at least two hotel developers about the potential to bring a boutique hotel to the city centre, which will help to open up the nighttime economy and provide facilities much needed to ensure footfall in the city centre.
“The strategy we had agreed across all the main stakeholders in the city for the regeneration of Lisburn is now being actively implemented and I believe people will begin to see the benefits of that strategy in the months that lie ahead.
“Whilst I recognise there has been a lot of negativity about Lisburn and undoubtedly we have suffered due to the global recession, I am positive about the future.
“Last year Lisburn had the third highest level of new business set ups in Northern Ireland and unemployment has continued to drop month on month so that is clear evidence we have turned a corner and Lisburn is on the up.”
“One of the main issues people were raising in the run up to the recent election was the lack of spaces available for pre-school and primary school children, particularly in the north of the city,
“In recent years we have seen significant growth in the north of the city,” explained Mr Donalddson.
“Despite hundreds of new houses being built and many families moving in, there has been no additional primary school provision and that has to change.
“I am pressing the Education Authority to either increase the enrolment of existing primary schools or to look at building a new primary school in the north or west of the city.
“There is also a continuing problem with pre-school places and again I have made the case to the Education Authority and the Department of Education for more places. Part of the problem with pre-schools is that we have an outdated and discriminatory policy, which means working families are disadvantaged by virtue of the fact that priority is given to those who are on benefits.
“It is important that all children are treated equally and fairly.
“I will be meeting with the Chief Executive of the new Education Authority in the next few weeks to make the case for additional provision at both primary and pre-school level in Lisburn.”