Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman and Chairman of the Stormont Employment and Learning Committee, has secured concession from his party’s Executive minister that gullies in flooding hotspots across the constituency will be emptied in spite of budget cuts.
Assemblyman Swann, who is UUP Chief Whip, secured the concession from Regional Development Minister and fellow UUP MLA Danny Kennedy, who has made numerous ministerial visits to North Antrim.
Mr Swann secured the vital concession following a question to the minister at Stormont.
Mr Swann said: “The Minister has indicated that the recent budget cuts have left him with only a 75% capacity for grass cutting, patching and gully emptying.
“Will the Minister tell me how many gullies across Northern Ireland his Department is responsible for? Will he ensure that the flooding hotspots will continue to get priority attention?”
Responding to Assemblyman Swann, Minister Kennedy said: “It is an important subject. My Department is responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of over half a million gullies across Northern Ireland.
“Of those, we aim to inspect and clean, where necessary, all gullies in urban areas twice each year and gullies in rural areas once each year.
“As a result of the recent budget cuts, I no longer have sufficient funding to pay contractors for gully emptying. That will be a challenge.
“My Department’s operations and maintenance staff will endeavour to prioritise gully cleaning and dealing with known flooding area problems, including some of the very prominent cases that we have heard about over recent times. We seek to prioritise those areas to ensure that they are protected as far as we can,” said Minister Kennedy.
Mr Swann added: “Given the very severe problems which families have faced in parts of the North Antrim constituency because of flooding, I am very pleased by Minister Kennedy’s commitment to tackling the gully emptying challenge. This is another example of the UUP delivering for the people of Ulster.”