MLAs - YOU WILL GO ON MY FIRST WHISTLE!
<p>Age Concern and the General Consumer Council have joined forces to throw down the gauntlet to get local MLAs out of their cars and onto public transport on Wednesday 12 May.</p>
In towns and villages across Northern Ireland, 17 MLAs have accepted the challenge to make their way to a set destination without using a car. They are to act out scenarios ranging from picking up prescriptions to attending hospital appointments. They must also keep a record of their experiences in planning and making the journey.
Pam Tilson, Political Affairs Officer at Age Concern said: “The aim of the challenge is to highlight the positive and negative experiences that consumers, particularly older people, encounter in everyday journeys to places like the doctor's surgery, hospital and shopping centre. The challenge will also highlight the different experiences of rural and urban passengers. Access to and quality of travel information, waiting times and facilities, on-board comfort and staff attitude will all be recorded.”
Alan Walker, Head of Consumer Affairs at the General Consumer Council said: “The joint voice of Age Concern and the General Consumer Council will allow us to tease out the issues that concern passengers and inform this important debate.
“These journeys are challenging, but not impossible. They represent the real-life journeys that people without a car face every day. It will give us an opportunity to highlight the benefits of public transport as well as identifying areas for improvement.
“Today's event will be fun and no doubt, we'll get some interesting results, but our aim is a serious one. We will use the findings from today's challenge to inform our contribution to the Government's Accessible Transport Strategy and Regional Transport Strategy.”
“Public transport must become a more viable option here. That means that all journeys must be available, accessible, and good value for money. The General Consumer Council is committed to putting local passengers at the heart of an effective and modern public transport system.”
A Department for Regional Development (DRD) spokesperson said: “DRD is developing an Accessible Transport Strategy to improve access to the transportation system for older people and people with disabilities. The Department is involved in an extensive round of consultation to identify the barriers and problems these groups experience when using transport and get ideas to overcome or reduce these barriers. The results of Age Concern and the Consumer Council's MLA challenge will make a helpful contribution to DRD's work on the Strategy and a range of other initiatives that flow from the Regional Transportation Strategy.”
The challenges take place across Belfast, Antrim, Newtownabbey, Derry, Strabane, Cookstown, Limavady, Belleek, Enniskillen, Castlewellan, Kircubbin, Tandragee, Omagh and Dungannon. A full list is attached:
- General Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail, [email protected]
- The General Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.
- For more information, visit our website at www.gccni.org.uk
MLA Transport Challenge – the journeys
Journey 1 MLA: Barbara De Brun
Starting Point: Connelly House, Andersonstown
Destination: La Salle Boys Junior School then Royal Victoria Hospital
You have to collect your grandchild from their school and bring them to the Royal Hospital to visit their mother who is in for an operation
The visiting time begins at 11.30 am and lasts half an hour, and then you have to bring your grandchild back to school before returning home.
Journey 2 MLA: Esmond Birnie
Starting Point: Stranmillis
Destination: Musgrave Park Hospital
You have an appointment at Musgrave Park Hospital at 10.30 am on the 12 May. After your appointment you return to your starting point.
Journey 4: MLA: Michael Ferguson
Starting Point: Poleglass
Destination: Solicitors and Sprucefield Shopping Centre
Scenario: You have an appointment with your solicitor in Lisburn at 10.30am and afterwards have to go shopping at the Homebase store at Sprucefield Shopping Centre.
Journey 5 MLA: Roy Beggs Jnr
Starting Point: Larne
Destination: Antrim Hospital
You have an appointment at the Antrim Hospital for 10.30 am on the 12 May. Your appointment lasts for 30 minutes, and then you return to your starting point.
Journey 6 MLA: Ken Robinson
Starting Point: Jordanstown
Destination: Newtownabbey Borough Council and the Abbey Centre
You have to travel to Newtownabbey Borough Council offices to register a death/birth/marriage. After this you have an appointment at the Opticians at the Abbey Centre at 11.30am and then return home.
Journey 7 MLA: Mary Bradley
Starting Point: SDLP Office
Destination: Altnagelvin Hospital
You have an appointment at Altnagelvin Hospital for 10.30 am on the 12 May. Your appointment lasts for half an hour, after which you need to go to a pharmacist to pick up a prescription before returning home.
Journey 8 MLA: Mary Nelis
Starting Point: Sinn Fein Office
Destination: School and then Dentist
You have to get collect your young grandchild from their playgroup and bring them to the dentist for an appointment at 11am, which lasts half an hour, and then return home.
Journey 9 MLA: Eugene McMenamin
Starting Point: Clady, Co Tyrone
Destination: Doctors Surgery in Strabane
You have an appointment at the Doctors at Mourneside Medical Centre on Ballycolman Avenue at 10:30 on 12 May. After your appointment you need to travel to a pharmacy to collect your prescription and then return to your starting point.
Journey 10 MLA: Francie Molloy
Starting Point: Cookstown Sinn Fein Office or Home Address
Destination: Post Office and Leisure Centre
You have to travel to Killymoon Street Post Office to collect your pension and then have to be at Cookstown Leisure Centre to attend the "60+ Club" at 11.30am.
Journey 11 MLA: George Robinson
Starting Point: Limavady
Destination: Housing Executive Grants Office
You have an appointment at the Housing Executive Grants Office in Londonderry at 10.30 am on 12 May. The appointment lasts for 30 minutes and then you return home.
Journey 12 MLA: Tommy Gallagher
Starting Point: Belleek
Destination: Fermanagh District Council
Scenario: You have to travel to Fermanagh District Council offices to register a death/birth/marriage and then return to your starting point. You have an appointment to see someone at the Council at 10.30 am.
Journey 13 MLA: Tom Elliott
Starting Point: Home
Destination: Doctor's surgery and then shopping
Scenario: You have to travel to the doctor's surgery in Irvinestown and then go shopping before returning home.
Journey 14 MLA: Catriona Ruane
Starting Point: Newcastle or other location
Destination: Down District Council 24 Strangford Road Downpatrick BT30 6SR
You have to travel to Down District Council offices to register a death/birth/marriage and then return to your starting point. You have an appointment to see someone at 10.30 am.
Journey 15 MLA: Kieran McCarthy
Starting Point: Kircubbin
Destination: Ards Central Post Office and then Ards Shopping Centre
You have to travel to Ards Central Post Office then to meet a friend at Ards Shopping Centre at 11.30am to do some shopping before returning home.
Journey 16 MLA: Paul Berry
Starting Point: DUP Office 78 Market Street, Tandragee
Destination: Rushmere Shopping Centre, Craigavon
You are meeting a friend at Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon at 10.30am to do some shopping before returning home.
Journey 17,18 and 19
Dr Kieran Deeny and colleagues
All three will start from the same location and make their way to the three hospitals in Omagh, Enniskillen and Dungannon.