The Minister for Regional Development, Danny Kennedy, was pleased to discuss the benefits of a 4% drop in non-domestic water charges during today’s Question Time. The overall savings will depend on the water consumption and rateable value of premises and will not only help businesses but hospitals, churches, residential homes and those in the voluntary sector. This “good news” has accompanied the recent announcement that parking charges in town centres are to be reduced with the launch of a six month pilot to extend the ‘5 hours for £1’ scheme that proved so successful over Christmas.
The Minister also discussed the latest progress on redeveloping the old Waterside station in Derry into an integrated transport hub. At this stage it is not considered that any new development would have any impact on the City centre bus station (other than the improvement of connectivity between the new and existing facilities). Early estimates are that the redevelopment would cost around £17m – money which is not accounted for in the budget. Therefore the future of the project depends on the securing of the necessary funding. It is hoped that EU funding sources might be a viable option for finance.
Also discussed during the scheduled oral questions were the impact of the Reservoirs Bill on the Department’s reservoirs, the Enniskillen bypass and travel times on A6 routes. During topical questions the Minister also answered questions on contingency plans in case of summer flooding in East Belfast, charges for motorbike races and the possibility of improvements on the Enterprise train service from Belfast to Dublin.