This is my plan to help Downpatrick reach its full potential if elected as your MLA on 5th May.
I live in Downpatrick and grew up just outside this town. I know how much potential it has. We have world-leading tourism attractions, hardworking entrepreneurs and artists, and excellent connectivity to Belfast within a stunning rural hinterland. Downpatrick should be a destination town for all of Ireland.
Yet Downpatrick continues to fail to reach its potential. For too long the same political parties have held power in Downpatrick and have failed to deliver sustainable growth and better opportunities for its people.
Over the past number of years we have seen:
- Closure of our A&E service at the Downe Hospital
- The downgrading of the Down Museum, with its full-time curator moved to Newry
- Failure to support Down Railway, Ireland's only full-size heritage railway
- Closure of the council-run tourism office in Downpatrick
- Failure to progress the Irish Street Regeneration scheme
- No progress on key infrastructure projects like the Eastern Distributor Road and long-promised Park and Ride facility
This is all happening whilst local political parties have pushed for £26.4m to be spent on new council offices in Newry, offices which will duplicate our civic centre in Downpatrick and displace good public sector jobs to Newry. Newry is also receiving a £35m regeneration scheme and £80m for its Southern Relief Road. This is not to begrudge Newry anything, but to ask where is the fair deal for Downpatrick?
We are the county town of Down, and yet our current political leaders seem content to downgrade our tourism assets, remove public services, displace jobs and see the town relegated to a rural backwater dependent on jobs services in Belfast or Newry. This is not good enough.
We need a fair deal for Downpatrick. We must Restore our County Town.
Downpatrick has so much potential, but if we are to realise it we need new political leadership. Leaders with vision, entrepreneurial spirit and fresh thinking. I have a 10-point plan to deliver for Downpatrick, and if elected as Alliance's first MLA for South Down, I pledge to do everything I can to transform his town.
- Protect and enhance services at the Downe Hospital
- Oppose spending £26.4m on new council offices in Newry
- Stop the downgrading of our museum and railway and support our tourism assets
- Pedestrianise Market Street to kickstart town centre regeneration
- Create a vibrant, welcoming night-time economy
- Develop more green spaces including a Quoile Country Park
- Invest to make Downpatrick a world-leading tourism destination
- Campaign for the Eastern Distributor road and other key infrastructure projects
- Deliver the Park & Ride facility at Belfast Road
- Fight for rates relief and reform to support local businesses
But we can only make this happen together. That's why I'm asking you to vote Brown for South Down on 5th May and together, we can Restore our County Town.