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Boylan concerns over troubled Armagh city Environmental Improvement Scheme

30 January, 2008 - by Cathal Boylan

Sinn Féin Armagh City MLA Cathal Boylan has raised concerns about the proposed Environmental Improvement Scheme for Armagh city in the Assembly and called on the Department of Social Development to either find additional funds for the scheme or reappraise the bench marking process.

Mr. Boylan had been alerted to the fact that the proposals have come in £1.3 million over budget and that the whole scheme is in jeopardy if savings or further funding cannot be found. The opportunity to raise the issue came in questions to the Minister of Regional Development, Conor Murphy.

After asking if the Department of Regional Development (DRD) had been approached about proposed changes to the traffic flow in the city, the Minister said that when he met with local Council on December 6th to discuss the proposed link road, representations were also made regarding traffic flow in the council area, as well as issues dealing with the Environmental Improvement scheme.

Cathal Boylan raised concerns about the Environmental Improvement scheme as the lowest submitted tender is £1.3 million over budget - mainly because the Department of Social Development is very high 'bench mark' targets for contractors. Mr Boylan asked if DRD had been approached for further financial assistance either by DSD or Armagh City Council.

Minister Murphy responded saying, 'the environmental improvement scheme involves other bodies besides Roads Service. Ongoing discussions have taken place between officials from DSD and officials and members from Armagh City and District Council. Roads Service had offered £300,000 towards the scheme over a three-year period and, following a discussion last week has offered an additional £30,000 for the first year. I hope that the scheme is not in jeopardy; it is in all of our interests to ensure that it goes ahead'.

Commenting, Cathal Boylan said,

"There are real concerns about the Environmental Improvement scheme. £1.3 million is a big shortfall to try and make up. The DRD, who are a small players in the scheme, have been as generous as they can, but really the onus is on the DSD and Margaret Ritchie to do more to ensure all the hard work which has been put into this does not go to waste.

"If more money is not available, then DSD must reappraise the bench marking they have placed on Armagh Council to meet in order for more contractors to be able to submit tenders which can meet the original budget constraints." ENDS

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