Other News In Brief

Antrim and Newtownabbey First Ni Council To Sign 'Share the Road to Zero' Pledge

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has become the first Council to sign the 'Share the Road to Zero' pledge, an ambitious Department for Infrastructure initiative to stop all road deaths in Northern Ireland.

The Council has joined a growing list of organisations who have signed the 'Share the Road to Zero' pledge, a huge road safety community programme with a single aim - zero road death in NI.

The Council is fully committed to road safety and is encouraging everyone to sign the pledge.

The Borough covers 274 sq miles from the shores of Lough Neagh in the west to the shores of Belfast Lough in the east. Its northern boundary with Ballymena leads to the Glens of Antrim and the port of Larne, while to the south it borders Belfast and Lisburn. It has a population of 142,492 and 65,000 vehicles pass through each day on the M2, one of the major transport corridors through the area

Signing the pledge yesterday, Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Mark Cooper, said: "Road Safety Week' 19-25 November, is a time for us all to take stock of our responsibilities as road users, think about the consequences of our actions, and be mindful of others using the roads. I am signing the pledge on behalf of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, committing to act in the safest possible way on our roads every day, and I encourage others, both organisations and individuals, to do the same."

Councillor Matthew Brady, Chairperson of Antrim and Newtownabbey Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) commented: "Road safety consistently ranks in the top 4 areas of concern for Antrim and Newtownabbey PCSP and we deliver a range of initiatives and campaigns each year to raise awareness on this issue. We are particularly concerned about the increase in numbers of people killed and seriously injured on our roads this year to date and welcome any further action to promote this essential messaging. I am pleased to be signing the pledge on behalf of Antrim and Newtownabbey PCSP."

Lynda Hurley, Head of Road Safety Promotion at the Department for Infrastructure said: "I welcome this opportunity to work partnership with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council on this very important community initiative. I thank them for signing the 'Share the Road to Zero' pledge, and I hope this encourages others to do the same. The evidence shows that more than 95% of road traffic collisions where someone is killed or seriously injured are due to human error. This means, deaths and serious injuries on our roads are not an inevitable consequence of using the roads. The majority of collisions can be avoided, resulting in less casualties if we make the right choices when using the roads. If we as road users pay attention and stay focused, drive at the appropriate speed for the road or the conditions, never drink alcohol or take drugs before driving and always wear a seatbelt, lives will be saved. Together we can make a difference and move towards zero deaths on our roads by taking the Road Safety Pledge."

Strangeford lough Ferry Services Fares Set To Rise

Fares on the Strangford Lough Ferry Service are set to increase for the first time since 2009.

The Department for Infrastructure has announced that a change to fares will be subject to a statutory 30-day notice period that is due to commence on 29 November 2023.

Fares for the ferry service have remained at the same level since November 2009 and an increase is therefore needed due to current budgetary pressures and the increased running costs of the ferry since that time. However, current discounts available on fares for children and Strangford Ferry SmartCard holders will remain in place.

The Department is supportive of Strangford Lough Ferry Service and provides an ongoing subvention, so that fares can be kept as low as possible.

The implementation date for the new fares will be confirmed following the statutory 30-day notice period.

Alliance Reaffirms Commitment To Tree Protection In NI

The Alliance Party is committed to bringing forward a Private Member's Bill (PMB) to strengthen protections for trees in NI.

East Belfast MLA Peter McReynolds reiterated his pledge as he hosted the launch of a major report by the Woodland Trust into the role trees and woodland can play in nature's recovery here. He said it was vital to protect them, given his essential they are to our natural eco-system.

"Trees and woodlands are essential components of our natural ecosystem, and in the creation of nature-rich, resilient landscapes," said Mr McReynolds.

"Our oldest trees are living legends and of incredible importance for wildlife, with each tree an ecosystem in its own right. But despite their importance, they are afforded less protection than our oldest buildings.

"That's why I have been working with the Woodland Trust to develop a PMB to strengthen protections for our existing trees and woodlands

"That will consist of a number of key areas, such as granting stronger legal protections for our oldest and most important trees, strengthening and enhancing tree protection orders, and protecting trees and ancient woodland from public and private bodies carrying out works under permitted development rights.

"If we don't protect trees, we are turning out backs on nature itself and the next generations coming after us. I hope my PMB will play a role in preventing that from happening."

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