12/11/2009

Delegates Debate 'Building' NI's Economy

The construction industry is vital lifeblood to the recovering economy of Northern Ireland, a conference in Belfast will hear today.

Hosted by Belfast City Council at the Hilton Hotel, 120 delegates made up of elected representatives and officers from our 26 district councils are gathering to discuss ways of navigating the construction industry "through the doldrums".

Opening the conference, Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Naomi Long, (pictured) praised the council's Building Control Service for tackling the issue head-on.

She said: "As a civil engineer, I know how important the construction industry is to our economy and I'm glad to see those involved in building control in councils across Northern Ireland taking the initiative to play a role in its recovery.

"As a politician and first citizen of this city, I am impressed to see public officials using their skills and expertise for the benefit of everyone, and doing what they can to help rebuild and strengthen our economy.

"Councils and the people they serve need their officers to step up to the plate in times of hardship, and this is yet another example of them being willing to do so," she said.

Alliance Councillor Long said that as well as looking at the difficulties facing Northern Ireland’s construction industry, it was important to celebrate its achievements also.
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"Over the next two days, difficult questions will be posed but this conference is also an opportunity to celebrate what is great and good about the industry.

"There are some fantastic new buildings across Northern Ireland that have transformed cities, towns and skylines, and heralded regeneration for many areas," she continued.

"Just recently I attended the re-openings of City Hall, the Ulster Museum and there have been other significant private and public sector developments and refurbishments brought to completion throughout 2009.

"What better evidence is there to show the importance of investing in our architectural heritage than buildings being restored and reinvented for a new generation.

"It is right and proper that we remind ourselves of the potential we have here in Northern Ireland and that we work together to ensure the tools to be creators are available."

The conference was organised and hosted by Belfast City Council on behalf of Building Control NI, a voluntary umbrella group of the 26 district councils' building control departments.

The theme of the two day event is 'Navigating Through The doldrums' and delegates will examine how the current recession is affecting building control across Northern Ireland.

It will also look at how councils may be able to 'tweak' their services to better meet the needs of ratepayers and businesses.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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