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Dormant Bank Accounts Consultation

The Department of Finance and Personnel is seeking views on the development of the draft Northern Ireland spending priorities and the underpinning policy directions for the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Scheme. A 'dormant bank account' is a bank or building society account which a customer has not asked about, put money into or taken money out of for at least 15 years.

It is estimated that there will be in the region of £10 million to £20 million available in the first year of the scheme with an anticipated several hundred thousand pounds available each year thereafter.

The consultation's aim is to establish spending priorities to specifically address the needs of the people of Northern Ireland and asks for input on a number of questions, including:

  • are there particular areas or issues that would benefit from the funds?
  • are there particular groups of individuals or organisations that should be targeted? 
  • should disadvantaged areas in particular be targeted?

The consultation paper is available to download from DFP's website and responses should be submitted by 29 October 2009.

18 August 2009

Colin Glen Forest Park Wins Green Flag Award

Colin Glen Forest Park has recently been awarded the Green Flag Award by the Civic Trust. The Forest Park, located on the Stewartstown Road between Belfast and Lisburn, is a 200 acre wooded glen on the banks of the Colin River, a tributary of the River Lagan. The Park also features a lake, wildlife ponds, open meadows and spectacular views over the city of Belfast.
 

The Green Flag Award is the national standard for quality parks and green spaces and Colin Glen Forest Park was commended at the awards ceremony as the only non-council owned park to win the award. 

The Park is managed by Colin Glen Trust whose main aims are to conserve and enhance the biodiversity and wildlife of the Forest Park, and to provide an open and welcoming community space. The Trust works in close partnership with local neighbourhood groups, environmental interest groups, volunteer groups and local service providers and organises a wide range of educational and recreational events for the public, including wildflower walks, grow your own vegetable demonstrations, 'bat nights', tree planting days and orienteering events.

For further information see www.colinglentrust.org

3 August 2009

Consultation on Planning Changes Started

The new Minister for the Environment, Edwin Poots MLA, has launched his consultation proposals for major changes to the planning system. The proposed changes have an impact on many aspects of planning including:

- community consultation on planning applications;

- people's rights to be heard at inquiries;

- rights of appeal by objectors; and

- developer contributions.

Consultation events are being held by the Planning Service during September 2009. "Before then", said Colm Bradley, Director of Community Places, "we will be providing advice and support to our members and other community groups so that they can all present their views with as much effect as possible".

8 July 2009

Minister Launches Community Places' New Website

Minister for the Environment, Edwin Poots MLA, today launched this new website and Guide to the Planning System.  Speaking at the launch at the BBC Blackstaff House, the Minister said:

"The new website provides advice and information on planning issues for community groups and individuals who may otherwise not access the planning system. I am delighted to launch the new site today and welcome the work of Community Places in supporting local communities and their involvement in the planning process."

Access to a range of guides and factsheets on planning issues is freely available on the website as is an Information Pack on Community Planning. See the different menu items to the left of this page. The new Guide to the Planning System also launched by the Minister explains how to apply for planning permission or object to a planning application and how applications are assessed. Community Places Director Colm Bradley said "we are delighted the Minister was able to launch the new website and guide today and are grateful for the ongoing support of this Department. We now look forward to receiving online requests for advice and information and to working with local communities and individuals in greatest need of the support we provide". 

2 July 2009

Island Policy for Rathlin

We are delighted to congratulate Rathlin Development and Community Association now that its dedication and efforts in lobbying for a policy specific to the island have finally paid off. For many years islanders have spent a lot of time and energy working to ensure the provision of basic services, which most people on the mainland take for granted.  Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy announced the Executive's endorsement of a central government policy for Rathlin Island during a visit to the island on 10 June 2009 when he opened the Association's new Community Resource Centre.

Mr Murphy said: “Today marks a new way forward for the community here on Rathlin. As the only off-shore inhabited island in the North of Ireland, we have developed in partnership with the islanders, a central government policy which recognises and sets out to address the unique challenges experienced by island life. This new policy protects the island's heritage and way of life yet promotes its viability and sustainability now and for the future. 

This policy will now allow the Executive to proactively respond to the needs of the islanders on issues around public transport and roads infrastructure, health and social care, education and schooling, agriculture, community development, tourism and economic development."

19 June 2009

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