‘Retaining local identity’ is a common theme for candidates

Retaining Carrick’s sense of identity following the upcoming council merger has been outlined as a key priority for a number of candidates.

Members of the UUP, TUV and NI21 parties were just some of those launching their respective campaigns last week as the countdown continues to the local government elections on May 22.

Among those seeking a seat on the new Mid and East Antrim Council, which will comprise the current local authorities of Carrick, Larne and Ballymena, are UUP candidates Councillor John Stewart, Cllr Andrew Wilson and Lindsay Millar.

“This is the most important local government election for Carrickfergus in 30 years,” Cllr Stewart said. “With the merger of Carrick into the new Mid and East Antrim Council there is a real risk that we could be swallowed up by other areas. I am dedicated to ensuring this does not happen and that Carrickfergus remains the primary focus.”

Education, health, better infrastructure and lower rates will be top priority for Cllr Wilson, who is seeking re-election to the Knockagh area.

“[I will] fight against proposed detrimental changes to disabled user provision at Ellis Court and press for a reversal of the non-admission residential care homes policy which is affecting Joymount. I will also continue to press for the completion of supported housing at Greenisland House,” he added.

Putting her name forward after a number of years behind the scenes in politics is Lindsay Millar, who worked for both the former Health Minister, and Jim Nicholson MEP.

“If elected, my top priority will be to rejuvenate our town centre, which currently has the largest percentage of empty shops across all of Northern Ireland,” she said.

Seven former DUP councillors from East Antrim pledged their support for the TUV as the party began its local canvass. The group includes candidates William Knox and Ken McFaul, a former first citizen of the borough.

“Jim Allister has shown in Stormont that Traditional Unionist Voice can deliver, be that when it comes to victims’ issues or exposing the waste and squander which is all too often a hallmark of governance – both in council and at Stormont,” a statement from the party read.

“Locally people are concerned about the demise of the old councils and the impact this will have upon the identity of their area, particularly when one considers the rich heritage of Carrick.”

Meanwhile, Whitehead resident Jeremy Jones is a new face to local politics as he stands for the recently-established NI21 party.

“NI21 is standing on a platform of reforming politics in Northern Ireland. We want to normalise politics so that it is no longer focused on ‘them and us’ but on boosting economic development, service delivery and community cohesion,” he said.

“Local government is the closest level of government to the community. It is in the position to identify community needs and to make sure those needs are met in the most appropriate way. It is vitally important that we have councillors focused on delivery, not division.”

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