Lagan Valley MLA Jenny Palmer has called on the Stormont Executive to “do all in its power to assist the constituency’s construction industry”.
Concerned that employment in Lagan Valley’s construction sector is being hit hard by the economic downturn, Mrs Palmer said: “It is vital that the Minister of Finance gives guarantees on which capital building and infrastructural programmes he will fast track to help support employment in the construction sector.”
The Ulster Unionist Party’s spokesperson on infrastructure continued: “The construction industry makes an important contribution to the economy of Northern Ireland, and Lagan Valley in particular.
“It must also be noted that while there is construction work within the constituency, workers from Lagan Valley also travel to other parts of the Province to find work.
“Of particular concern have been the challenges in the housing sector and their impact in recent months on many individuals.
“While real difficulties are being experienced by the private housing market, investment by the public sector, which continues to increase, is significantly benefiting the industry and I want to see this support continue.
“In a past Assembly mandate, the Finance Minister said it was expected that government capital investment would be in the order of £1.5 billion, compared with £676 million in the years before this. “I sincerely hope that in 2017 a recognisable part of the current Finance Minister’s investment will be directed towards supporting the construction industry in Lagan Valley.
“Such a much-needed increase in expenditure can only be achieved by the devolved administration recognising the importance of capital investment in infrastructure and working with the construction industry to deliver.”
Mrs Palmer said she’s keen to ensure that Lagan Valley receives its allotted share of any capital investment planned for the next couple of financial years. And she has called on the local councils within the constituency to “adopt a united front on building regulations.”
The UUP representative said she will be demanding a guarantee from the Minister for Finance that there must be consistency across all the councils in Northern Ireland.
“I will ask the Minister in the Stormont Chamber what measures will be put in place to ensure that there is uniformity of practice between councils in matters of building regulation,” she continued.
“For me, it is vitally important there is consistency between councils across the board.
“I will also be seeking the Minister’s assurance that this important issue about consistency of application will be drawn to the attention of the appropriate officials in his department.
“If ever a Stormont Executive needed to make a New Year resolution, it is to provide appropriate funding for our building trade,” Mrs Palmer added.