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"You have my support. There's something very ugly about the way this is being steamrollered through.

Information from Belfast City Council Website

BLACKSTAFF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION

(BLACKSTAFF RESIDENTS)

But for the support of local residents, the new Windsor International

Stadium might have been located at The Maze or another location.


The Northern Ireland Executive provided £25.2 million to the Irish Football Association (IFA) to develop Windsor Park. An assurance was given in 2013 that this would also bring social and economic benefit to the local community. These were empty words and residents have seen NONE of the promised benefits.


Olympia residents gave their full, unconditional support for the Windsor Park National Stadium development, despite having suffered serious environmental effects due to the building of the North Stand along with anti-social behaviour and car parking problems on match days.


At public consultation meetings, long standing grievances were expressed. If the residents had held out and refused to give their support until grievances were   addressed, then it might have put the proposals back and even had the National Stadium located elsewhere; possibly at the Maze.


Following planning permission for the new stadium at Windsor, the residents support was soon forgotten and they are still waiting to see ANY of the promised benefits.


Blackstaff Council Ward is second in a list of twenty Most Deprived Wards in Belfast. Within Blackstaff, the Olympia area NEVER seen any improvement schemes of any kind, which would make it, THE MOST DEPRIVED AREA IN BELFAST.


Conditions are getting worse and many long term residents have moved out. Not more than 6 long term residents are still living in the row of houses on the railway side of Donegall Avenue leading up to the entrance to Windsor Park. This is an example of what is happening throughout the area.


Recently, our chairperson briefly spoke to Michael O’Neill, the Northern Ireland  Manager, and he was shown photographs of the deplorable conditions experienced by local   residents. See next page:  “What’s Behind The North Stand?”


25th November 2016 will see the closure of our Community Centre against the clear opposition by the local people. A Working Group to consider closure was refused by a majority vote at a Council meeting. Residents were supported only by the DUP and PUP councillors, but it was not enough to possibly save the  Olympia Community Centre. Local groups have been offered a kind of ‘time share’ in the new leisure centre. The suitability of this arrangement, remains to be seen.


Residents are now faced with even more problems, a new storm sewer drain for the benefit of the new stadium is being laid along Olympia Drive and Donegall Avenue, which shall cause considerable disruption for a year or more. Residents were never consulted; only informed as to what is going to happen.


The first three things that must be done is that the Olympia Drive alleyway be adopted, a pathway be provided from the Olympia to Boucher Plaza shopping area, and  that funding be provided for an urgent Feasibility Study to be carried out into how the area can be improved. The results of such a study must not be left on a shelf to gather dust; as was the case with a report in 1991 which demanded action after years of neglect. We don’t think this is a lot to ask, considering the £25.2 million that was given to the IFA to develop Windsor.


WHAT’S BEHIND THE NORTH STAND?


A major concern for residents is the condition of the alleyway running parallel with Windsor Park and Olympia Drive. Locals including Maud from Olympia Drive -in photo-  have been campaigning a lifetime to have it adopted. During bad weather  they have to walk through mud when going out to the rear of their homes and rain water flows into many of their back yards from the alleyway. Today, residents still take their bins through  what -at times- looks like a jungle in a monsoon or through their homes


Many of the residents are now pensioners and not able to get around as they once did. This was one of the main issues at the public meetings and residents asked that it be looked on as part of the overall development at Windsor.


“We’re working with our partners, the Irish Football Association, Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure and Linfield FC, TO MAKE SURE the wider development BENEFITS THOSE LIVING NEARBY.” Belfast City Council.


THE LOCAL PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TREATED UNFAIRLY. We know many have voiced their concerns; will you join them and support the local  residents?


If you are a local resident, you are invited to join our association. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month in Olympia Community Centre from 6.30pm until 7.30pm. PLEASE NOTE: From the new year, meetings will be held in the new leisure centre.


CONTINUE FOR MORE BACKGROUND INFORMATION




URGENT, ACT NOW! Vote against the unnecessary demolition of the BOYNE BRIDGE.

GO TO:

www.boynebridge.co.uk

 


Meeting in Olympia Community Centre.

Wednesday, 4th February 2015


Many thanks to the many residents who attended the meeting at Olympia Community Centre and to IFA and  BCC project officials who took the time to attend: There were three main issues:


OLYMPIA DRIVE ALLEYWAY


That residents called once again to have the Olympia Drive alleyway adopted so that work can start on it to provide drainage and a concrete surface. This is a long standing issue for local people who believe that they are getting nothing in return for their support for the Windsor Park National Stadium development. This issue dominated most of the meeting with very strong feelings expressed.


EVENT MANAGEMENT PLAN (EMP)


It was clearly proved by a 'show of hands' at the meeting, that local residents have not been made aware of the Event Management Plan (EMP)  although it has been in existence from 5th December 2012.  It was the view of residents that the plan should be printed in booklet form and delivered to every home and business  in the Windsor Park Stadium area as part of the promised consultation involving all affected parties, including the local community. This would then give the opportunity for residents and the business community to comment on the Event Management Plan.  This would be in accordance with the EMP, which included the undertaking that it would be continually reviewed and monitored.


COMMUNITY FORUM


Residents felt strongly  that the opportunity should be given to all local residents to elect their representatives to the Community Forum.


EFFECTIVE AND MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE?


The general view from the meeting is that there is no evidence so far, of the promised undertaking by the IFA of developing an effective and meaningful dialogue with local residents and businesses affected by the development of facilities at the Windsor Park National Stadium.


FINALLY


The meeting was useful and it gave local residents  once again the opportunity of expressing their views. Hopefully we may hear some encouraging responses to the three main points made at the meeting.




In 1977, the local people went around the houses to raise money to build their first Olympia Community Centre which was a  portacabin. Now some councillors want to take our Community Centre away from us.

Olympia Community Centre Support Group

To: All Residents. Please take time to read all this important information.

We have been writing to Belfast City Council to express our deep concern about the proposal to close the Olympia Community Centre and what the implications of that closure will be for our local community. As things stand, the community is being offered a space for community use in the redeveloped Olympia Leisure Centre. From the outset, we want to make it clear that we support the redevelopment of the leisure centre, which is part of the Windsor Park project, but we feel that the current community provision being offered by the council is entirely insufficient to meet the needs currently serviced by a dedicated community centre. Also I don’t know whether you are aware of this, but there are talks of "Privatising Leisure" going on and if this happens then the Community Rooms which have been promised in the Leisure Centre might not appear and we will be left with nothing.

There are several reasons why we believe that it is important to keep the existing centre open or, as a minimum to replace it as close to the current site as possible. These are:

Olympia Community Centre provides a multi-purpose space which is convenient to people in the Olympia/Tate's Avenue area. To close it would leave this area of the city completely bereft of community space.

The alternative being offered presently comprises of one room on the third floor of the re-developed Olympia Leisure Centre, without the dedicated community support staff that are currently employed in the Olympia Community Centre. Not only does this proposal pose obvious difficulties for those who have mobility/disability problems, but it represents a reduction in the staff provision serving our community.

There has been an appalling lack of community consultation ahead of the decision being made to proceed with closure of the Olympia Community Centre. At a recent meeting of the Development Committee of Belfast City Council a proposal was put that a working group be formed to hear the views of local residents on the issue before any decision was taken on the future of the community centre. This proposal was defeated by a majority vote. We are not seeking to delay the Windsor Park re-development in any way, we simply want to have our concerns listened to and acted upon by the council whom we pay our rates to.

For all of these reasons we are urging the Council to reconsider the working group proposal and hope the majority of councillors will give it the support it deserves.

Should the Council still refuse us the right to a partnership voice then we shall continue our campaign with the new City Council in May.

Olympia and Tates Avenue area residents have never been consulted about the proposal to move services from Olympia to St Simon's Hall 'Taking services into the community' (Council wording on flyer) actually means in reality, 'Taking services further away from the community'.

During Council public sessions at Olympia Leisure Centre, the proposal to move services to St Simon's Hall was never discussed. We know now -but not then- that only a few people at the public sessions knew about the St Simon's Hall proposal but they remained silent.

A petition which is being organized is showing clearly support from all the Blackstaff Council Ward area and not only Olympia and Tates Avenue area.

In the recent CityMatters magazine the Belfast City Council states the following: "We're also working with our partners, the Irish Football Association, Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure and Linfield FC, to make sure the wider development benefits those living nearby."It is very significant that they do not include the local Olympia community as one of their partners and yet claim to be working for the benefit of those living nearby.

Please be aware that there was £1.3million earmarked for a new Community Build, Councillors have decided to save money (about £700,000) and put the Services into St.Simons Church Hall instead of giving the local Community a new Community Centre. Council officials have stated that this is what the community has asked for! Who informed the Council that this is what we want?

So basically there has been a long Leisure Centre discussion / consultation but the local people / Community didn’t get a chance to have Community Consultation, looking at what options there was for a new Community build or if that was not an option another alternative.

Do you know that in the Casement Park Stadium Redevelopment, the Community was able to set up a Community Engagement Committee made up of Community Representatives, the GAA Stadium Project Board, and other people pertinent to the project, i.e.…proper Community Consultation, who had Community Workshops / consultation viewing of new plans etc…on what they would like to see in a new purpose built Community provision at Casement Park in West Belfast

We believe that the people of the Olympia, Tates Avenue, Donegall Gardens and Village area have not been given the same opportunity as local people in West Belfast to have a proper Community Consultation on their Community Services and Community Centre.

Regardless of how the Council votes on the issue we must continue the campaign and even if the Council votes in favour of setting up a working Group, we must be prepared to demonstrate our support for a new community centre and make a very good case for it. THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN!

Without your support and all the support of your neighbours we can never hope to defeat Council plans to close Olympia Community Centre and evict; YES EVICT all who love the centre, to find somewhere else. The Council hope that they will go to St Simons Hall.

There are 3 things you can do in the campaign for a new purpose built Community Centre and they are: 1) Sign the Petition. 2) Attend the Public Support Meeting in Olympia Community Centre on Wednesday, 12th February in Olympia Community Centre at 7.30pm at which some councillors will attend in support of our campaign. 3) Encourage others to do the same; after all when the Community Centre was a portacabin way back in 1977, the local people fought to get a Community Centre and went around the houses to raise money to build it. We must also honour the memory of all the past community stalwarts and do what we believe they would do. We know they would not settle for second best; will you?

Thank you for taking time to read this and it is now up to you and the community to act. Don't say after it is too late that the people at Casement / Falls got what they wanted but all we got was the option to move into an old church hall or go elsewhere.

YOU CAN HELP STOP THE CLOSURE OF OLYMPIA COMMUNITY CENTRE

The late Mrs Isobel Johnston - right of photo-

We must also honour the memory of all the past community stalwarts

The late Mrs Nan Lambe

There has been an appalling lack of community consultation ahead of the decision being made to proceed with closure of the Olympia Community Centre.

At a recent meeting of the Development Committee of Belfast City Council a proposal was put that a working group be formed to hear the views of local residents on the issue before any decision was taken on the future of the community centre. This proposal was defeated.

We are not seeking to delay the Windsor Park re-development in any way, we simply want to have our concerns listened to and acted upon by the council whom we pay our rates to.

We are urging the Council on Monday to reconsider the working group proposal and hope you will give it the support it deserves.

At the Council Development Committee on 14th January 2014, the majority of members on the committee voted against setting up a working group to look at the options associated with the possible closure of Olympia Community Centre and the moving of services from Olympia and to endorse the existing plan.

Olympia Community Support Group would ask the full council to reject the decision of the Development Committee and support the setting up of an Olympia Community Working Group along similar lines to that which already exists as part of the Casement Park Stadium Redevelopment.

We understand that there is a Community Engagement Committee and a number of workshops have been held associated with the Casement Park Stadium Redevelopment. Olympia Community would demand equality with the residents in the Casement Park Stadium area. We know that Belfast City Council officials and councillors have been involved with the Casement Community Workshops and Community Engagement Committee. Why should the Olympia Community be treated differently from the Casement Park Community?

WHAT WE SAID IN NOVEMBER 2012

"We need to be assured that the existing Belfast Council facilities (Olympia Leisure Centre, Community Centre and Park) will still be available to all the community. We understand from the meeting on 4th October that talks have been going on about 'rearranging / relocating' Midgly Park and some Council facilities including the park. If this is the case then why is it that local residents have not been invited to discuss theproposals? This might have dispelled the suspicion and the personal attacks may not have been made at the October meeting. As it stands there does not seem to be a lot of trust between all involved in the Windsor Stadium development and residents."

BCC & PARTNERS (BUT NOT LOCAL RESIDENTS) DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US IS FOR US

In the recent CityMatters magazine the Belfast City Council states the following: "We're also working with our partners, the Irish Football Association, Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure and Linfield FC, to make sure the wider development benefits those living nearby." It is very significant that they do not include the local Olympia community as one of their partners and yet claim to be working for the benefit of those living nearby.

SAD FACES IN OLYMPIA COMMUNITY CENTRE: WHY CLOSE OUR CENTRE?

We are disappointed that the Development Community voted against the proposal to set up a community working group to look at the options for Olympia. Olympia Residents have never been consulted about the proposal to move services from Olympia to St Simon's Hall which is not seen as part of the Olympia Community. 'Taking services into the community' (Council wording on flyer) actually means in reality, 'Taking services further away from the community'. During Council public sessions at Olympia Leisure Centre, the proposal to move services to St Simon's Hall was never discussed. We know now -but not then- that only a few people at the public sessions knew about the St Simon's Hall proposal but they remained silent. In our view, only Southcity Resource and Development Centre-that will run the services at St Simon's Hall- will gain from the closure of Olympia Community Centre.

Another point and perhaps our most important one is that if the GAA can consult the local Casement Park community through Community Facilities Workshops and a Community Engagement Committee then why should the same be denied to the Olympia Residents?

I mention the Olympia residents but the petition which is being organized is showing clearly support from all the Blackstaff Council Ward area.

A Belfast councillor wrote (30/1/14):

" Who benefits from this?"

Who will benefit from the closure of Olympia Community Centre and the moving of user groups?

Annual Income St Simons (Southcity) £1440.243.

Annual Income GVRT: £1531.2

The Olympia Community Centre Support Group (OCCSG) made a 20 point presentation to the Development Committee on 19th November, 2013. This represented many hours of discussions with the Olympia Management Committee, Blackstaff Community Development Association, local residents, a few local groups including Alderman Stoker from Southcity and finally a public meeting at which OCCSG was formed and officers elected. Based on all the majority opinions including those from the three Council information sessions, the OCCSG produced 20 carefully considered points to put to the Development Committee.

As the delegation prepared to enter the committee room, they were informed by an official that there would be no decision until the new year. It was our view that the points would simply be tabled. After so much work that had went into our presentation, we felt that councillors would need time to consider the 20 points which OCCSG had made.

It was therefore a shock when a few of OCCSG members found out, that the Development Committee at its meeting on 19th November agreed to a proposal by Alderman Stoker that would result in the closure of Olympia Community Centre.

One of the most important points in the OCCSG presentation was the suggestion to Andrew Hazzard at the last meeting he attended in Olympia that there should be a working group of all interested parties including the local community.

We would ask that Development Committee to set up a working group which would include the local community as a mater of urgency to discuss all options.

xx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx

Belfast

BT12 xxx

19th November 2013

OLYMPIA COMMUNITY CENTRE SUPPORT GROUP

  1. Prior to the Council's three information sessions during September this year, there were two public consultation meetings by the Irish Football Association (IFA) in Olympia Community Centre. Local residents made it clear at both meetings that they fully support the proposed development at Windsor Park stadium but also said that they would need to be assured that the existing Belfast Council facilities (Olympia Leisure Centre, Community Centre and Park) will still be available to all the community.
  2. At the IFA Meeting, residents wanted to know if talks had been going on about rearranging / relocating' Midgly Park and some Council facilities including the park; why local residents have not been invited to discuss the proposals?
  3. There was no suggestion from residents at any of the IFA consultation meetings , that Olympia Community Centre or it's services be moved away from the Olympia area.
  4. There was a poor response to Belfast City Council's information sessions during September. During these sessions, Andrew Hazzard. Director, Parks and Leisure. Belfast City Council claimed that it was the wish of local residents to move services into the Village and he mentioned St. Simon's Hall.  As Andrew Hazzard was present at the IFA's public consultation meeting, we find it difficult to understand how he could make such a statement.
  5. It is important to understand that the Olympia, Tates Avenue and Donegall Gardens area (the main catchment area for Olympia Community Centre) is now the most populated area within the Blackstaff Council Ward. The 'Village' area has recently seen 40% of the houses demolished and only a total of 114 social houses will be built altogether, finishing sometime in 2014 or 2015. A large area of land could remain vacant for 10 years or more. It is only right that the most populated area should have a community centre in its own right.
  6. The nearest community facilities from Olympia is the Women's Centre and the Tate Building which is a considerable distance away from Olympia; further away again there is the Nubia Youth Club and St. Simon's Church Hall which are near to each other. Next we have the Donegall Road and a linear of community facilities including Richview Presbyterian Church Hall and War Memorial Hall -both at Pembroke Street, Empire Youth Club & Social Club, Richview Regeneration Centre, Donegall Road Methodist Church Hall (used by Southcity) and Male Care at Rockview Street.
  1. Option 4 in the Appraisal report, dated 22nd October 2013, will only add to the facilities in this Donegall Road section of the area and at the same time leave a very large populated area without any community facilities.
  2. The Olympia and Tates Avenue area feels a safe area for all sections of the community. This is especially true for young people and children.
  3. The Olympia has a better environment for children to play unlike facilities on the main Donegall Road where children have to be walked to the nearest park at Blythefield.
  4. It is unreasonable to expect senior citizens or those with walking problems to walk from the Olympia area to even the nearest community facility at Broadway.
  5. There is ample car parking at Olympia and provision for disabled drivers. This is particularly helpful to those who need to use the car even for short journeys.
  6. A new community centre should be built as near to Olympia Drive as possible and designed along with a children's park.
  7. A new community centre will also create new opportunities for the community after a number of years of difficulties at the centre.including the decission to cease the Tuesday and Thursday after schools by Belfast City Council in 2010 and provide a new service for GVRT on the Donegall Road. Some councillors might remember this and the anger felt by the workers and parents at Olympia.
  8. A new community centre located within the wonderful new Sports Village will give the community lots of opportunities to develop an exciting new centre.
  9. It was a suggestion to Andrew Hazzard at the last meeting he attended in Olympia that there should be a working group of all interested parties including the local community
  10. We would point out that most of our members and the community have not seen the Option Appraisal Report and the few members that have, only seen it a few days ago on the Council's website. We have had no time to study it in any detail.
  11. We notice however that what looks like our preferred option; option 5: New centre on the south side of Tates Avenue (i.e. between it and the stadium) or on Boucher Road near the site of the existing centre is second on the short list of options.
  12. We would ask the Development Committee to seek the views of local residents regarding the first two short listed options as a matter of urgency.
  13. We believe the views of local residents have already been voiced at public meetings in favour of keeping a community centre in the Olympia and Tates Avenue area but we feel that another public meeting is necessary as we have two very clear proposals which need to be put to the community.
  14. The above points are not inclusive, but we think the main points have made and sincerely hope the Council will take whatever steps are necessary to get the opinions of the local community and not only community groups.
  15. Thank you for receiving our deputation this afternoon.

Jennie Andrews (Secretary)

Att.

Despite the horrendous weather conditions on Wednesday, 12th February 2014, an encouraging number of local residents made their way to the public meeting in Olympia Community Centre. We are pleased to say that the meeting agreed to support the campaign to have an Olympia Residents' Working Group in partnership with the Belfast City Council, Irish Football Association, Linfield Football Club and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. The meeting agreed that this would help give the local community a 'real say' in decisions regarding community services, the Community Centre, Windsor Park stadium and Leisure Centre developments.

Blackstaff Community Development Association (Blackstaff Residents) was formed in 1978. It is the oldest continuous community organization in the Blackstaff Ward of South Belfast. Over the last few years it has suffered the loss of many of its members due to redevelopment in the Village and Monarch area. Coupled to the effects of redevelopment, there has been a number of recent deaths of long serving members. Although membership is still at a level to keep the organization active, we would nevertheless would like to see new members. . BCDA would like to say that membership is open to all Blackstaff residents and they would love to hear from anyone interested in becoming a member. Blackstaff covers Olympia, Donegall Gardens, The Village, Roden Street and the Monarch areas. If you are interested, then please contact Billy by email feedback@blackstaff-residents.org.uk

  "Anything to do with the re­development area goes through the community design team that was set up to carry out the deci­sion of the public inquiry in 2009. There would be 60% improve­ment area and 40% housing. It's our job to carry this out. The Min­ister said in a written answer what the procedure would be after the third phase planning application is approved. Billy Dickson

Billy went on to say that there appeared to be a conflict between what was said by the minister and Housing Executive officials. "How the BELB were told that lnd was available I don't know. The Housing Executive would deny saying that the land is avail­able, but it's there in black in white in the BELB's paper. In his written answer the minister out­lined the way forward so if Hous­ing Executive officials on the ground are saying this land is available for the BELB then this makes a nonsense of what the minister has said."

As late as November 15, in a written answer to a question posed by Anna Lo MLA regarding future social housing in the Village area Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said: "It is the Housing Executive's intention to develop the remaining land for affordable private sector housing, and it will commence this process in consultation with the local com­munity once planning approval is granted for Phase 3. The Housing Executive will also continue to monitor the social waiting list de­mand and should this position change it will review the land use."

"Local officials who sit on the design team were not aware of all this. When we told them they weren't aware of who said that the land was available. I believe that BELB officials are telling the truth, that they were given the strong impression that this land was available for them. They will be pushing ahead on that basis and applying for planning permission. I want the minister to step in now and say "you're wasting your time, that land is for housing and hous­ing only.'"

05 September 2013

CONCERNS OVER CROSSING: Blackstaff Community Development Association (BCDA) has written to Roads Service regarding local concerns about residents safety at in the vicinity of the zebra crossing at Tates Avenue / Ebor Street.

There has been two traffic collisions recently which prompted the BCDA to write to the Roads Service requesting a meeting to discuss what can be done to reduce the risks for road users and local people.

The zebra crossing is used by many local people including children going to the shops and Olympia Community Centre. Road Service are waiting for information on the details and circumstances of the recent collisions from the PSNI. Once the full details are known, they will consider the options available.

Roads Service have agreed to meet BCDA sometime this month to discuss what can be done to make this crossing point safer for everyone. BCDA will also raise other concerns about road safety in the Tates Avenue / Boucher Road area.

A site visit was arranged with Roads Service officials and we made a number of suggesting. Let's hope we don't have to wait too much longer before some action is taken to reduce the risks to all using Tates Avenue and the general area.

A public meeting was held in Olympia Comunity Centre on Thursday 27th November 2014. It was a good meeting and progress was made. transportni - Roads Service will look at all options and report back to residents.

RUBY MURRAY CONCERT

On Friday 11th of May 2012 my dad Bernie, my sister Julie and I sang together on stage for the first time ever at a gig in Belfast. A personal achievement and special moment that we will cherish and are very grateful for. The show was put on at the Fane Street Primary School where my mum went as a little girl. Along with ourselves some of the talented local people performed various things associated with Ruby Murray and everyone seemed to love it. One of the highlights was three actors who very kindly came along and performed an excerpt from the play "Ruby". They were fantastic and to top it off it turned out that one of them was the son of the plays author Marie Jones..

REPORT ON THE RUBY MURRAY TRIBUTE CONCERT BY TIM MURRAY (Son of Ruby Murray).

Everyone did a great job, the local performers, the guys who gave their time to provide and monitor the sound system and musical accompaniment and in particular the organizers who not only pieced the whole thing together financially but did everything from publicity, ticket sales, banners, seating arrangements, manning the doors, teas and biscuits, filming the show, looking after a very nervous Murray family, schedule fag breaks, provide a taxi service, to singing on stage themselves and even comparing the whole show. Nice one Eleanor! I have to say though the local kids and teenagers singing and dancing to mums songs was really moving. not only because of their ability and the synchronicity of the occasion, but the realization of what Ruby Murray had really achieved and how the beauty of music can and will transcend life's hardships. In that moment there were no politics, no boundaries and not even a generational divide. Don't you love music?!

The show was to help raise awareness of a project run by one of a handful of women's groups in what's known as "The Village" which is where my mum was born and grew up. "The Village" is one of the areas in Belfast that has experienced more than its fair share of trauma and heartache through and since "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland. Added to that is a harsh economic environment which continues to have a devastating impact and leave good people and a proud community in need of support. As part of a rejuvenation plan a lot of the old terrace streets, including Moltke Street where mum grew up, are being replaced by new housing and facilities. Some of the residents would like to rename a street or name the new park in honor of Ruby Murray as a dedication to one of a number of famous or successful people from the area. We were welcomed by the women's group and shown round the building they use to offer support to the community, particularly the women. Out of nothing they had built a center that provides educational opportunities, vocational courses, a meeting place, a crèche, a tiny library with books donated by local people and even a massage therapy room. On top of that they had just completed plans for a new building as part of the redevelopment. Most importantly however it was clear to me that they offered a safe space of compassion and understanding to people trying to survive in a world that has very little of it. It was amazing to see what had been achieved with virtually no financial support or political will and it was only when I met the women involved that I was reminded how it's possible that a handful of dedicated people can make such a difference against all the odds, it's because they care. I am humbled and to a large degree my faith in humanity is restored. Thank you for that ladies!

Progress on the project as a whole is very gradual which is understandable as along with the hope of rejuvenation comes the difficulties of change. But on behalf of my dad, my sister and myself we would be thrilled to know that in some small way mum's achievements could help restore a sense of dignity and pride in the city she was born in and the people she loved very much.

THIS IS THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF


BLACKSTAFF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION


ALSO KNOWN AS BLACKSTAFF RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION


Formed on Tuesday 3rd May 1978

With love

Tim Murray

 I. To provide a forum where complaints may be ventilated and, by discussion and constructive criticism strive to improve the standard of life for the residents of Blackstaff Ward.

 II. To assist Government Departments, Local Authorities and other bodies, by discussing and giving the possible reaction to schemes proposed; to initiate discussions on schemes which, in the opinion of the Association, would contribute to the Development of the Community.

 III. To support or organise activities which would encourage Community Development.

 UNTIL RECENTLY, THESE PAGES WERE BEING USED IN THE STRUGGLE TO SAVE THE COMMUNITY AND GOOD HOUSES THAT HAVE BEEN UNFAIRLY DESCRIBED AS BEING UNFIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION. SADLY THIS BATTLE HAS BEEN LOST!

The information below and on the next pages will give you some idea of what is contained throughout this website. Even though it is very brief, we believe there is enough here to condemn the redevelopment scheme for the Village and Monarch area.

THE ARBITRARY LINE (Redevelopment Area in orange and Improvement Area in yellow). NIHE Statistics for both areas were taken together and applied to the Redevelopment Area. For example, most of the houses in Donegall Avenue (part of the Imprivement Area) are over 100 years old so the NIHE applies this fact to the Redevelopment Area and declares repeatedly that the vast majority of houses area over 100 years old. The NIHE states in their Redevelopment General Advice & Guidance publication that "We will carry out a full survey of all the properties in the area and if more than  one third are unfit, we will consider redevelopment."

A full survey of all the properties should mean a FULL Survey of ALL the properties but this was not the case.

The 2005 survey involved 1,328 properties and the statistics used to condemn 538 properties.

THERE WOULD NEED TO BE OVER 180 UNFIT HOUSES IN THE AREA BEFORE THE NIHE COULD CONSIDER REDEVELOPMENT BUT ONLY 82 WERE SURVEYED INTERNALLY.

The first rule listed in the Guidance booklet by the NIHE in deciding whether a house is unfit for human habitation is that it must have an inside toilet. BUT in a written answer to Jimmy Spratt MLA on 25th February 2010 in the Northern Ireland Assembly, who asked the Minister for Social Development Margaret Ritchie how many houses in the redevelopment area of the Village, south Belfast, currently have outside toilets. Her answer was that the Housing Executive is not aware of any occupied properties in the redevelopment area of the Village which have outside toilets. NOT AWARE !!!!! and yet this is the first rule listed in deciding whether a house is unfit for human habitation is that it must have an inside toilet. Surely they must know how many had outside toilets in the 82 which they claimed were surveyed internally within the redevelopment boundary.

The NIHE also stated: “We will carry out a full survey to all properties in the area (this was not done) and if more than one third are unfit, we will consider redevelopment.” The redevelopment area has 538 properties so more than one third would be 180 or more properties. BUT how could this be when only 82 properties surveyed internally and they don't even know how many had outside toilets?

 Frenchpark Street - Why would anyone wish to demolish these good houses?

Remember the man with the bath in his bedroom?The Belfast Telegraph and the Nolan programme on BBC radio both ran the story highlighting the man’s situation. The cry rang out that “something must be done”. Now this might come as a surprise to many, but this man’s home is not even in the Urban Renewal Areabut in Olympia (near Windsor Football Ground). How could anyone get it so wrong? The media clearly saw this as a good story. Was the media contacted to put the record straight? Did the homeowners try to get their views across? Yes we did. We tried many times, but no one wanted to know.

THIS MAN IS STILL IN HIS HOME (15/02/2019) - BUT HUNDREDS LOST THEIR HOMES

The NIHE did not carry out a condition report on any of these houses.

Was this to hide the truth?

Workmen had just started work when this photo was taken. Legally vandalizing and blocking up this refurbished house at Broadway Parade. This action by NIHE was carried out despite vigorous complaints from residents in the street. Many other houses like this one in the redevelopment have also suffered from legalised vandalism.

"This Inquiry in your person has shown itself to be partial, to be in breach of the rules of natural justice and on behalf of the Homeowners Association of Blackstaff, I will not prostitute myself before it any further, I withdraw. (The audience applauds)" Mr Craig Dunford BL.

ALL SIX SOUTH BELFAST MLAs WERE

MISSING FROM THE PUBLIC INQUIRY

The claim by Paddy McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Housing Executive that the vast majority of houses are over 100 years old is not true.

Adverse publicity in the media of poor housing, does not relate to our area. The claim by Paddy McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Housing Executive that the vast majorityof houses are over 100 years old is simply not true and we would dispute other claims about the number of bricked up houses.

Our members have affordable and comfortable homes which they have maintained to their satisfaction. They do not wish to see their homes vested and taken from them. In their present situation, they have security and peace of mind. With full redevelopment, they have only concerns about the future, due to so much uncertainty. BCDA see no justifiable reason why our members homes should be vested by the NIHE.

The redevelopment scheme will cause many neighbours to be rehoused away from each other. (This has already happened throughour 2009) This will destroy the good neighbourly support that they experience on a daily basis. There is nothing in the redevelopment scheme that would be of any benefit to any of our members.

It is our belief that, that the older generation will be sacrificed for a younger generation who will benefit in purchasing new homes, built where our homes once stood. The younger generation may not necessary have any family connections to the Blackstaff Ward. On the first day of the public inquiry, it was said in evidence by a member of the Housing Focus Committee that the 'SENIOR CITIZENS DAYS ARE NUMBERED'. This statement only adds to our view that the older generation will be sacrificed for a younger generation. It is not regeneration it is new generation.

"IT IS INCREDIBLE THAT A GROUP ADVOCATING 100% REDEVELOPMENT FROM THE VERY START SHOULD CARRY OUT THE CONSULTATION PROCESS."




















A MURAL of St Patrick in a loyalist area of south Belfast is being investigated by council officials in a row over planning permission.

Launched last week by First Minister Arlene Foster, the artwork on Tates Avenue bridge is aimed at recognising the shared history of Ireland’s patron saint.

But some residents claim they were not consulted about the plans and say it spoils the appearance of the traditional red-brick bridge.

The artwork is placed on several large aluminium panels fastened to the bridge in the Village area of the city.

It was created by artist Ross Wilson at a cost of £10,000 to the Housing Executive (NIHE).

Billy Dickson, chair of Blackstaff Residents’ Association and who lives nearby, said they were not consulted about the mural.

“If a large art work went up in your street without your knowledge, would you be happy about not being consulted? I don’t think you would be,” he said.

“My personal view is that I have no problem with the image or the wording, but I don’t like where it is on the bridge as it takes away the aesthetic line of the traditional red-brick bridge which has always been a traditional feature of the area.

“In simple words, the artwork looks out of place on the bridge.”

It is not the first time NIHE has pursued community projects in south Belfast without seeking planning approval.

Planning chiefs previously probed two controversial memorials NIHE constructed in 2014 in the Village and Ormeau Road areas.

The monuments, in total costing £33,000, were intended as First World War monuments but caused outrage after being changed by loyalists to honour paramilitaries shortly after being built.

In both cases planners said it would “not be expedient” to pursue the matter with the housing body, which insisted it complied with regulations.

The latest project was led by the Greater Village Regeneration Trust alongside Action for Community Transformation (Act).

It features interpretations of St Patrick by Donegall Road Primary School pupils and explains how St Patrick is represented in the Union flag.


The above is from a report in the Irish News by Brendan Hughes, 17 March, 2016.


One of the objectives of the Blackstaff Residents’ Association is that the association will support a unified approach to the provision of public art in the area and greater involvement with local residents.




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