The Public Meetings, which took place in Dromara and Hillsborough, were the first of ten such meetings which are scheduled to take place across the Lisburn and Castlereagh area in July and August.
Under new powers, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council is responsible for producing a Community Plan for the area, which will bring together Public Agencies, Emergency Services, Community Groups, and Residents, developing a blue print for how the City can work together and grow over the coming years.
At the meetings, a wide range of groups and residents took part, discussing the positive aspects of the City, areas in need of improvement and issues that local people would like to see addressed in the City’s Community Plan. Among the topics raised were: facilities for young people, transport, antisocial behaviour and business opportunities for local areas.
Residents also had the opportunity to have discussions with other statutory agencies including, education providers, the PSNI and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
Speaking after the meetings, Chairman of the Council’s Governance and Audit Committee, Alderman William Leathem, thanked everybody who took the time to come along and play their vital role in shaping the City’s future. “Community Planning can only be really successful if everyone gets involved in the process,” he said. “Our first meetings have shown that there is a real enthusiasm to become involved and I would encourage everybody, young and old, to come along to one of our remaining eight community conversations meetings and work with all our partners in Lisburn and Castlereagh to help us identify and prioritise those issues important to local people.”
Echoing the comments of Alderman Leathem, the Council’s Chief Executive, Dr Theresa Donaldson, said that community planning provided a critical opportunity for services and communities to work together to develop a community plan that will include the social, environmental and economic needs of the new Council.“The Community Plan should be an inclusive, long term vision for the future – we are relying on the Community to support the conversations. Community involvement is the key to a successful community plan,” said Dr Donaldson.
The next meetings will take place on August 3 at Glenaidan Centre, Glenavy from 7pm-9pm, August 5 at the Island Civic Centre from 2pm-4pm and 7pm-9pm, August 13 in Drumbo Orange Hall frpm 7pm-9pm and in Maghaberry Community Centre on August 20 from 7pm-9pm.