Sinn Féin councillor Cathy Mason has today proposed that residents of Newry, Mourne and Down District are guaranteed free access to local forest parks, saying it would be “a great way to ensure local people can enjoy the world-class natural heritage” on our doorstep.
Speaking at today’s Strategic Finance Working Group in Council, Cathy Mason said:
“When I set out my priorities earlier this year as Council Chairperson, I made it clear that I wanted to help more residents get outdoors and enjoy the world-class natural heritage all around us here in Newry, Mourne and Down Council.
“However in recent months I have listened to elderly and hard-pressed families who feel that paying car parking fees in some of our local forest parks limits their ability to do just this.
“It was clear to me then we have to ensure that citizens across the district have fair access to facilities no matter where they live.
“So I have today proposed that every household across the district is given a pass to grant free access to our local forest parks, while a small nominal charge will remain in place for those travelling from outside the district.
“With more than 1.3million vehicles now travelling to our local parks each year, Sinn Féin is also proposing that this money is ring fenced for the protection, maintenance and enhancement of our local forest parks.
“We believe this proposal not only enhances the ability of our local community to get outside and enjoy our local environment; but importantly it also contributes to more sustainable tourism, which is hugely important in areas like Newry, Mourne and Down where visitor numbers are growing significantly in recent years.
“We believe this solution is the best outcome for workers and families across Newry, Mourne and Down.
“Given the current cost of living crisis it is imperative that families can continue to use these facilities for their physical and mental wellbeing at no added cost.”