Rural Development Programme – Have Your Say!

MEA LAG Consultation Ad 12 8 15

Rural Community urged to ‘have their say’ in shaping local Rural Development Programme Strategy

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Local Action Group (LAG) is holding a series of consultation events throughout August and September in an effort to ensure that the future Rural Development Programme reflects the needs of the local rural community. The details of the consultations are as follows:

Community Consultations – Tuesday 25th August 2015 (7-9pm, Larne Town Hall, Larne), Wednesday 26th August 2015 (7-9pm, Loughshore Hotel, Carrickfergus) and Thursday 27th August (Houston’s Mill, Broughshane, Ballymena).  A Business-focused Consultation will take place on Tuesday 1st September 2015 (7-9pm, LEDCOM, Willowbank Business Park, Larne).

The events, which are being held across the Borough, will allow the LAG to explore the issues, challenges and opportunities within rural Mid and East Antrim, and are calling for those living in the local rural communities to come along and have their say.

Roy Beggs MBE, Interim Chair of the Mid and East Antrim LAG, strongly encouraged attendance at the events and said: “This is a perfect opportunity for all those affected by the new Rural Development Programme, and indeed anyone with an interest in the future sustainability of our local rural economy, to come along and make sure that our strategy makes an impact where it is needed most.  I would strongly encourage attendance from all parts and all sectors of the Borough”.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Mayor, Billy Ashe, welcomed the consultation: “This consultation will help to establish just how exactly the local strategy will target the needs of the local community,” he said.

The main themes being considered for the 2014-2020 Strategy are Rural Business Investment, Village Renewal, Rural Basic Services, Rural Broadband and a Cooperation scheme.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) submitted the draft Rural Development Programme for Northern Ireland to the European Commission in October 2014. It is expected that the Commission will formally accept the proposal in September 2015.  Once the Programme is approved, DARD will be in a position to enter into a contract with the Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group (LAG) for the implementation of Priority 6.

  1. The Mid and East Antrim LAG will be responsible for delivering Priority 6 of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 on behalf of DARD.
  1. Priority 6 relates to Social Inclusion, Poverty Reduction and Rural Economic Development.
  1. The six schemes available under Priority 6 are:
  • Rural Business Investment;
  • Village Renewal;
  • Rural Broadband;
  • Rural Basic Services;
  • All Island Cooperation;
  • Rural Tourism (managed directly by DARD).
  1. The Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group (LAG) is made up of representatives from the Borough. There are 13 social partners and 11 Elected Members:
  • Social Partners: Sam Crowe; Roy Beggs MBE; John Barkley; Sandy Wilson, Vivienne Walsh; Emma McIlveen; Eamonn Matthews; Kelli Bagchus; Norman Worthington; Orla Black; Edward Adamson; Rachael Garrett and Valerie Blake.
  • Elected Members: Cllr. Ruth Wilson, Ald. John Cherry, Ald. Maureen Morrow, Cllr. Reuben Glover, Cllr. Billy Henry, Cllr Audrey Wales MBE, Cllr. Robert Logan, Cllr. Gordon Lyons, Cllr. Lynn McClurg, Cllr. Stephen Nicholl and Cllr. James McKeown.


  1. The LAG will be using a LEADER approach to ensure an area-based local strategy, formed from the bottom up, both influenced and developed, and that includes the priorities as identified by the local rural community.


  1. The LAG for the Mid and East Antrim area has been allocated a budget of £4.19 million for the period of the Programme.
  1. Up to 22% of the total allocation is for administrative and animation costs and the remaining budget will be for allocation to projects (£3.3m). This budget will be confirmed following European approval of the Programme.
  1. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) in their Review of the Statistical Classification and Delineation of Settlements (March 2015) has suggested that the classification of a rural area is a population of less than 5,000.
  1. For Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Media enquiries, please contact: Brian McCalden, Communications & Engagement Coordinator, Tel: 028 2563 5041 or Louise Kennedy, Change Manager, Tel: 028 2563 5043 For more information on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, visit

Gobbins Cliff Path Open For Bookings

Gobbins Path
Gobbins Path

The Gobbins Cliff Path is now open for telephone bookings

Visitor booking has just opened for Mid and East Antrim Borough’s stunning tourist attraction, The Gobbins Cliff Path. The attraction offers guided access to the stunning bridges and paths that have been rebuilt on the Gobbins’ Cliffs in Islandmagee, County Antrim. Just 48 hours ahead of the public opening of the facility on Wednesday 19th August, a telephone booking facility has just gone live on 028 9337 2318 where staff are ready to welcome enquiries.

Gobbins entry
Gobbins entry

From noon on the 17th August 2015, bookings can be made by phone, direct to the Gobbins Visitor Centre. Tickets, which must be pre-booked, are priced at £8.50 per person, or £23 per family ticket.

Tours begin from the new Gobbins Visitor Centre which also offers an interpretation and exhibition area, tourist information point and a shop offering local crafts and branded memorabilia.

Visitors are transferred to the cliff path by minibus from the Visitor Centre and tours begin on the hour, from 10am to 3pm, daily.

The £7.5 million investment in reopening The Gobbins is expected to attract around 50,000 visitors annually.

Larne’s Dixon Park Gets Green Flag

Larne Dixon Park Gets Green Flag
Larne Dixon Park Gets Green Flag

Mayor praises parks’ staff and community supporters as Green flag raised over Larne’s Dixon Park

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council recently welcomed the quadruple award of a prestigious ‘Green Flag’ for all its entries in the UK-wide environmental scheme. Now Larne staff and community supporters have been praised for their efforts in achieving the prestigious accolade for Dixon Park.

The Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe, has personally met staff and volunteers to convey his appreciation. He is pictured here with Parks Manager Ben Simon, local residents including Ann Marshall, Chair of the Resident’s Association, and Alphonsus McIllwaine who maintains the site, as they prepare to fly the flag at the popular location.

Cllr Ashe said: “The hard work, professionalism and dedication of the staff – and supporters in the community – has paid off in the award of the Green flag.” The Mayor added: “This also visibly demonstrates to the local community and councillors that the sites are being well-managed for the benefit of the local community and local wildlife. We were awarded the Green Flag across Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead; Bashfordsland Wood/Oakfield Glen, Carrickfergus, People’s Park, Ballymena  and of course, Dixon Park, Larne. “Dixon Park originally received the Green Flag in 2012, making it the first park in Mid and East Antrim Borough to have this award, and local parks staff and the Dixon Park Resident’s Association are keen that this beautiful community park continues to flourish and to be at the forefront of new developments. “The more Green Flag Awards a local authority has, the more it demonstrates best value for the council and the local community,” he said, adding that it is also a great attraction for tourism.