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Millennium Way, Lurgan

Regional Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 20th April 2009.

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Photo of Stephen Moutray Stephen Moutray DUP 3:15 pm, 20th April 2009

4. asked the Minister for Regional Development what priority he has given to the completion of Millennium Way in Lurgan.       (AQO 2489/09)

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

As the Member may recall, in response to a previous written question, I advised that the Malcolm Road to Gilford Road extension of the Millennium Way in Lurgan is one of a number of proposed highway improvement schemes that were identified in the ‘Sub-Regional Transport Plan 2015’. The ‘Investment Delivery Plan for Roads’ identifies funds totalling £109 million over the next 10 years for those improvements and for those in the ‘Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan 2015’.

However, the funding profile in the investment strategy does not accommodate those improvement schemes until the middle-to-late part of the 10-year period. Work is still to be concluded on a prioritised, non-strategic major improvement programme. Therefore, at this stage, I am not in a position to give an indication of the priority that will be afforded to the scheme.

Photo of Stephen Moutray Stephen Moutray DUP

I thank the Minister for his answer, however, given that properties in Lurgan were vested decades ago to allow for the construction of the Malcolm Road to Gilford Road link, it is disappointing that nothing has happened. The link is vital for that part of the town, because it will help to alleviate traffic congestion in the town centre. Given that Lurgan has suffered economically over the past number of years, I ask the Minister to instruct his Department to prioritise that badly-needed scheme.

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

I understand what the Member said. I have been to Lurgan to meet business people, and we discussed that key route.

I will be talking to representatives of Craigavon Borough Council later this evening, and I am sure that the same issue will arise at that meeting. Millennium Way will have to compete for priority — as will many other road schemes in many other towns. The final prioritisation has not been done, and I will bear in mind the Member’s comments.

We informed business people in Lurgan that any potential developer contributions would have a significant impact on the scheme. We will keep an open mind on that in the future. Any information relating to developer interest that emanates from the area will be taken into consideration as well.

Photo of Dolores Kelly Dolores Kelly Social Democratic and Labour Party

I note the Minister’s comments about developers, but I do not think that such interest is realistic in the current economic downturn. Not only is there a long-finger approach to Millennium Way, but is it not the case that there is a £50 million shortfall in the southern division’s budget? Given that the Minister has met the business leaders — and considering that Millennium Way will not be completed in the foreseeable future — will he ask his departmental officials to look at other measures that might alleviate traffic congestion?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

All Departments balance their budgets as best they can and prioritise according to greatest need. Therefore, there is no question of a project being long-fingered merely for the sake of it. People want to see the development of projects in every town in the North that I visit, and we try to prioritise as many of them as we can.

I met people from Lurgan Forward, and they suggested a range of traffic alleviation measures. Roads Service had further discussions with them on those measures, and perhaps we will receive more information on that issue this evening when we talk to councillors from Craigavon Borough Council. However, I know that Roads Service will be willing to look at any measures that will help the flow of traffic in and around Lurgan.

Photo of Samuel Gardiner Samuel Gardiner UUP

The Minister will be aware of Millennium Way in Lurgan and its successful contribution to the town, but it is not yet completed. I urge the Minister to put speed on that and to try to ensure that it is completed as soon as possible.

What discussions has the Minister had with the Minister of the Environment, Sammy Wilson, in relation to planning policy statement 5 (PPS 5) and the completion of projects in the Banbridge area and other such towns?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

As I mentioned in my response to a previous question, I am aware of the importance of Millennium Way. I know that it is unfinished, and I appreciate the priority that the locals want to see applied to its completion. I have not had any discussion with the Department of the Environment (DOE) Minister about Banbridge and PPS 5.