Councils urged to ‘act fast’ on community improvements plans

Councillor Billy Ashe.
Councillor Billy Ashe.

Councils in Northern Ireland should follow their Scottish counterparts when implementing community action plans.

That was the message from Councillor Billy Ashe following the publication of Mid and East Antrim Council’s ‘Putting People First’ blueprint and a fact-finding visit to North Ayrshire.

Mr Ashe said: “The Community Plan outlines ways to tackle anti-social behaviour, improve services and economically benefit citizens across Mid and East Antrim.

“There has been a lot of hard work surrounding what will go into this plan, but there is still more to do to actually deliver it. Councils need to act fast to get these improvement strategies out there for the ratepayers that wanted them.”

Mid and East Antrim launched its targets to improve the life of citizens across the borough last month.

Mr Ashe, who was chair of the Strategic Alliance which led the work for the ‘Putting People First’ document, added: “We want to make sure we’re getting value for money in the delivery of the plan and this really needs structured, meaningful debate to work out how we will measure our success and who will measure this, so everybody benefits.

“We also need people to feel they can come and talk to us, their elected representatives to address the gap that still exists between the plans and the people on the ground.

“People want better jobs, better services and better education for their children. They also want to live in communities that they feel safe in. There is still work to be done on how we are going to address this and councils need to start taking action.”

Cllr Ashe previously led a delegation to North Ayrshire to research how they had implemented their improvements and to see them in action.

He continued: “I was impressed by our visit to Scotland at how closely the council worked with various public, private and voluntary sector organisations and local communities.

“This is critical to the success of the plan on the ground and something we need to take forward to implement the vision for Mid and East Antrim.”

The Community Plan for Mid and East Antrim outlines a 15-year vision which focuses on improving the wellbeing of citizens and all aspects of life in the borough. It focuses on five areas: Sustainable Jobs and Tourism, Good Health and Wellbeing, Progress in Education, Community Safety and Cohesion and Our Environment.

The plan, led by council and covering the period from 2017 to 2032, was developed in partnership with a wide range of local people and organisations and brought together the public, private and voluntary sectors to work alongside the community.