Mayor’s New Year message

The Mayor has issued the following New Year Message:

“2011 has been an eventful year globally. The economic downturn with its effect on the United Kingdom and the Eurozone has been a regular feature on the news, as have the spiralling fuel prices and cost of living.

Meanwhile we have also seen the Arab Spring bringing significant changes to parts of North Africa and the Middle East whilst concern still remains over Iran’s nuclear programme. And who could have imagined at the start of the year the deaths of well known figures such as Colonel Gaddaffi, Osama bin Laden and Kim Jung-il? With the tragedy of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and the famine in Somalia it truly has been a year of change.

It has been difficult, in the midst of all this, to recall many items of good news. The Royal wedding and Queen’s visit to the Republic of Ireland were two occasions for good throughout the year. It was also good to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James (Authorised) Version of the Bible.

More locally the economic downturn has hit many businesses and families hard, and unexpected deaths have occurred. There have no doubt been many changes in many households, be they health, economic, personal or bereavement.

It is for this reason that I have devoted my time this year to trying to keep bad news to a minimum and promoting the positive. People I feel are becoming weary of bad news as they struggle themselves on a day to day basis. My main goal for 2012 is to continue to help in some way Ballymoney to continue to come together socially as one community and to acknowledge the work which many do unseen. It is in difficult times that we should help one another and value the things which matter, something which costs very little and means a lot.

I was proud after the May elections to be selected by my fellow councillors as Mayor of the borough I love and have spent most of my life in. It was also a great pleasure for me that for the first eight days my sister was Mayor of Castlereagh. I think, unique in Northern Ireland politics.

One of my first acts was to write to schools, offering to help in whatever way I can during the school year, including giving information about what council does. I have been more than impressed by the high standard of education locally among those schools I have visited.

I was also pleased to have the opportunity to acknowledge those who gave their lives to give us the degree of freedom we have today.

My support for the Milk Cup, North West 200 and other events which bring tourists to the Borough and promotes it across the world remains as strong today as it ever was.

At Christmas time I have personally seen the unfailing kindness and charitable nature of Ballymoney people, giving to others less fortunate. This personally has done my heart good to see.

During last year I attended over 230 meetings and events giving me the opportunity to acknowledge the good work of many groups and organisations. I plan to continue to work diligently until my term in office ends.

As I look ahead to 2012, I hope that the Borough will see changes for the better. I think of the work which has been done in respect of the community halls in Balnamore, Stranocum and Ballybogey. I am keen to see projects at Dervock, Glebeside and Cloughmills move forward, as well as at Megaw Park. I also look forward to seeing the Connect 2 project in the vicinity of the railway station, including a bridge and portrait bench brought to fruition. I am hopeful that further work on recycling will be advanced in the year ahead. As well as two Freedom of the Borough occasions, I also think of the Olympic torch coming through Dervock on the centenary of Kennedy Kane McArthur’s Olympic win and the Diamond Jubilee of our Queen in the year ahead.

I would like to take this opportunity to record my thanks to the local community and voluntary groups, the business community, government agencies, police, medical and emergency services, our schools and all those who work in our community to improve the quality of life of the citizens of our Borough.

My best wishes to all for 2012.”