It's been a busy month of July in my office
My constituency office in Newtownards provides services to constituents from all over. I've been dealing with issues for people from Ballynahinch to Portaferry, and everywhere in between. The political impasse at Stormont keeps dragging on, but what other politicians don't seem to realise is that life outside their bubble goes on and that's why I am still working hard for you. Below I've included a break down of the kinds of issues my office have dealt with over the last month.
Universal Credit Is Coming
The introduction of Universal Credit is the biggest change to the benefits system in a generation. If you recieve ESA, JSA, Housing Benefit Income Support, Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit then your benefits are going to change.These changes are coming in soon. They will take place in Ballynahinch from the 5th September and Newtownards from the 19th of September. I'm worried there isn't enough information about these changes so I've organised some information sessions with Advice NI. If you want to know more, come along to one of the meetings below.
23rd August 2018, 11am-1pm Ballyphilip CoI Parish Centre 10 Church Street Portaferry BT22 1LS Newtownards:
28th August, 7pm-8:30pm Christian Fellowship Church Warehouse 3 Glenford Way Newtownards BT23 4BX (Note: CFC serve a weekly hot meal at 6pm. Come along at 6pm to find out about the work of CFC) Ballynahinch
29th August, 6pm-8pm Market House The Square Ballynahinch BT24 8AE
Disturbances over the 12th
I was saddened to see the damage caused by criminals and thugs on the 11th of July in Newtownards and 13th of July down the Peninsula. The 12th holiday is meant to be a family-centred and fun expression of culture. A bus was burned out in the West Winds and tyres were set alight across Messines Rd causing an old peoples home to be covered in thick black smoke. The thugs who carried this out have nothing to offer Newtownards. Anyone with information should contact the PSNI or crimestoppers.
A story to warm the heart...and the head!
My office has been working closely with the residents of Blackwater Heights, Ballygowan who have spent the last seven years trying to get the heating systems in their home fixed. Seven years! I've been working with them for almost two years. Some of the residents had heartbreaking stories including a lady who was forced to leaver her home every winter because of fears for the health of her young children. Thankfully, after a lot of hard work and a refusal to give up, we have managed to ensure the Housing Association has fixed the heating. Now fourteen families can look forward to a warm winter.
Alliance stands against the far right in Ards
Saturday the 28th of July saw Britain First organising their first meeting in Northern Ireland in Newtownards. I attended the peaceful protest to show that Britain First and their supporters were not welcome in our area. It was obvious Britain First activists were frustrated by the lack of people who turned up for them. They held a meeting with far fewer supporters than had attended the peaceful, counter protect. Hopefully they got the message they are not wanted here. This comes as welcome news to the many local people who contacted me frightened to be in Newtownards on the day. The fact Britain First received little support is testament to how little they are thought of here. No hate here!
Alliance leadership meeting with May
This month, in my role as chief whip, I joined Alliance Leadership team to meet Prime Minister Theresa May. It was a tense meeting, we reiterated how important it was to get the devolved institutions back to work and how Brexit could not be allowed to put the Good Friday Agreement at risk. Expenses and Salaries.
These have been published recently and in the interest of transparency I want to share with you my expenses when I can. Alliance believe in transparency in public life and I think it's important to share this information with you.