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22 April 2015

Question Time: Regional Development - Tuesday 21 April 2015



How much does the Regional Devemopment Department spend on energy costs annually for street lighting? The Minister stated "to get the most competitive electricity prices for street lighting, a tender competition is run each year. The annual cost of electricity for street lighting varies from year to year, depending on the prevailing cost of electricity, the number of street lights and their wattage. In recent years, the annual cost has typically been in excess of £10 million. The out-turn costs for the last financial year, 2014-15, are not yet finalised, but I confirm that, in 2013-14, for example, street lighting electricity cost just over £10·6 million".

John Dallat, George Robinson and Maeve McLaughlin all questioned the Minister to outline his plans for ensuring that community transport remains an intergral component of public transport. The Mininster acknowledge the valuable services that the community transport operators provide to local communities and their members across Northern Ireland.But confirmed "Rural community transport partnerships can provide access to local essential services such as shopping, the post office or local health services, such as GPs, or they can link in with the wider public transport network to enable people to travel outside their local area. It is my intention, subject to EU rules and licensing arrangements, to continue to support those organisations. However, while I support fully the services provided by all community transport service providers, there will unfortunately be a reduction in the level of funding available. I have tried to minimise that, and it should be noted that, during my time as Minister, I have protected the baseline budget for community transport year on year and, where possible, supplemented it with in-year funding. I have been working intensively with officials to determine how best to spend the limited resources that are available to me".

During Oral Question Time the Minister was also asked about the East Antrim Cycle network, car parks and Places of worship signage. During Topical Questions the Minister was asked for an update on the proposed alleviation scheme for Queen Street Toome Road and Wakehurst in Ballymena,  for an update on the grass-cutting schedule for the Carnmoney area of Newtownabbey and for an assurance that there is fair and eqitable enforcement of parking regulations across our towns, cities and villages in Northern Ireland.