Ulster Unionist Belfast City Council candidate, Graham Craig, has called on the Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland, to ‘get a move on’ and build more social houses for the people of the Donegall Road and Village area.
Mr Craig said:
“This week I met with outgoing Ulster Unionist Councillor Bob Stoker to discuss the need for more homes for hard working families along the Donegall Road.
“Having lived in the area up until 2007, I am acutely aware of the long standing need for good quality family homes in the Blackstaff Village area of south Belfast. The community that belonged there is being displaced given the delay between the vesting of homes at the start of the regeneration and building of new ones.
“I commend the work of Councillor Bob Stoker in having already brought one hundred and twenty new homes to the Roden Street area but I have grave concerns that many of the mistakes that were made in other area of Belfast, such as the Shankill Road, are in danger of being repeated on the Donegall Road. Many houses have been already demolished and local residents displaced. If the community is to be protected it is imperative that construction of new family homes starts this summer.
“A virtual wasteland that has been created in the centre of the Village by the demolition of so many houses and this has the potential to act as a magnet for anti-social behaviour. There is a real risk that limited Council and PSNI resources will have to be deployed in the area due to foot dragging by the Department for Social Development. Minister McCausland would not stand for it in North Belfast and he should not stand for it in South Belfast.
“Both I and Councillor Stoker want to see measures put in place to ensure that when the new family homes are built in the Donegall Road and Village area, previous residents of the area who comprised that community prior to redevelopment, are given their rightful place in order to ensure the survival of a strong, stable and safe community in the area.”