Collaboration with Executive ‘crucial’ in borough’s pandemic response

Collaboration and regular engagement with the Northern Ireland Executive and Westminster will continue to be ‘crucial’ in Mid and East Antrim’s COVID-19 response and recovery, the local council says.

At a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, updated councillors on a range of Council engagements with NI Executive and Westminster leaders in recent weeks.

The Mayor advised of receipt of a letter of thanks from the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, following his visit to Waveney Household Recycling Centre in Ballymena in May.

Councillor Johnston said: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council took the bold step of being the first Council to re-open Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) during the pandemic – recognising that the benefits of operating this service far outweighed the health and safety and environmental challenges that would be posed by their prolonged closure.

“Our re-opening of our HRCs was subject to the strictest of COVID-19 health and safety measures and, in his letter, the Minister acknowledges how he observed first-hand the good practices and procedures around social distancing and other safety precautions during his visit last month.

“The Minister also recognises the positive impact of opening the HRCs across Mid and East Antrim, particularly in terms of reducing fly tipping across the Borough and providing critical services to our citizens.”

The Mayor also updated Elected Members that the Council’s Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy, had recently joined a number of business representatives from the Borough in a virtual meeting with Diane Dodds, Minister for the Economy.

Organised by North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, the meeting addressed a range of issues concerning the Mid and East Antrim – including town centre recovery, the recovery of the hospitality, tourism and manufacturing sectors and economic considerations such as the Port of Larne.

Through her role on the Northern Ireland Committee of the Institute of Directors (IoD), the Chief Executive also attended a virtual meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, during which she updated him on a number of Borough matters, including the Port of Larne.

Councillor Johnston added: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has always fostered strong relationships with the Northern Ireland Executive and Westminster. On many occasions, these have proven to be beneficial to businesses and citizens in Mid and East Antrim – not least in terms of engagement around key issues such as the Belfast Region City, our Heathrow Hub bid and other economic matters.

“As Mayor, I understand the critical importance of Mid and East Antrim continuing to collaborate and engage regularly with the NI Executive and with Treasury and Westminster, particularly when it comes to our COVID-19 recovery plan.

“As such, together with the Chief Executive and my Elected Member colleagues, I will be making every effort to continue building on the already strong networks that we have during my year ahead as Mayor.”

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