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McElduff to Host a Lobbying Day to Aid Local Construction Industry

8 September, 2008

Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff is to host a lobbying day aimed at addressing urgent concerns of the local construction industry at Stormont next Monday 15 September.

Mr McElduff explained that the recently formed Construction and Property Group will be putting their case for urgent government assistance to politicians, including the Sinn Fein MLA, who has been working closely with the Group in question over the summer months.

The Construction and Property Group was created following a series of meetings in Toomebridge and Cookstown. It brings together developers, builders, contractors, suppliers and those involved in the professional services affected by the crisis in the residential construction sector.

The main aim of the group is to highlight the crisis in the property and construction sectors and to engage with the Assembly and Executive and to work in collaboration with the major banks to introduce liquidity into the housing market to avert total market failure.

Lead by the steering committee the group is seeking:

  • A commitment from all the major financial institutions that they will not take any steps which would further destabilise the market;
  • A serious effort on behalf of the financial institutions to reintroduce liquidity into the market by ensuring mortgages are available, particularly to first time buyers;
  • The reintroduction of co-ownership by the Executive;
  • An urgent review of the comprehensive spending review by the Executive to ensure social housing investment and shared equity schemes are more available to low income house seekers.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mr McElduff said "I fully appreciate the importance of the construction industry to the local economy. The construction industry, according to Construction Employers Federation figures, employs in excess of 85,000 people in the north alone, many of these in my own constituency of West Tyrone. Despite the current downturn because of problems in the housing market, the construction industry will continue to play an essential part in building a growing and vibrant economy for the future. It also plays its part in delivering priorities set out in the Assembly's Programme for Government and its Investment Strategy.

"As MLA for West Tyrone, it is my responsibility to listen to the concerns of the local building trade and to put pressure on government departments and Minsters, some of whom are my own party colleagues, to do everything in their power to assist the construction industry at this time. This means lobbying for greater incentives for building social and affordable housing, it means seeking relaxation of rural planning laws, it means a quicker turnaround of planning applications by Planning Service and it means implementation of the Investment Strategy. This will involve the building of roads, schools, other public buildings and health facilities/hospitals as detailed in the Investment Strategy.

"Monday's lobbying day is an important step in the wider campaign. It is significant that the construction sector will be strongly represented in Stormont on day one of the new Assembly session, a measure of the importance of the current crisis of the construction industry. There is a real urgency about this. Jobs and livelihoods are at stake and our people are facing the prospect of immigration. Taken together with the credit crunch and the increased cost of living, this presents a challenge to the Assembly which does operate within particular financial restraints but which can take urgent action to help."

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