Sandra Overend took the opportunity during topical questions to the Minister for Regional Development, Danny Kennedy, to find out what plans were in place for the legacy of the Giro d’Italia (the world famous cycling event which will be coming to Northern Ireland in May 2014). Mr Kennedy confirmed that, after the launch of his Department’s new cycling unit, he is in the opportune position to take the lead on the project which should see the promotion of cycling in Northern Ireland and of tourism in Belfast and along the Antrim coast.

During the scheduled Oral Questions Pam Brown asked the Minister why there was no appointment of a new chief executive of NI Water despite a thorough HR process. Mr Kennedy explained that the NI Water Board and Penna plc (an executive search company hired to assist in the recruitment process) created a shortlist of four candidates however they were not considered to have met the full competencies required for the post. While the Minister conceded that the £70,000 cost of the failed process is regrettable, it is “important to secure the best candidate” for the position. His Department will be working with the NI Water Board to move quickly in resolving the situation.

Mr Kennedy was also questioned by Brenda Hale on traffic problems in Hillsborough following the completion of the A1 flyover. The Minister confirmed that surveys showed that traffic was leaving the A1 junction to travel through the centre of Hillsborough village due to delays experienced at the Hillsborough roundabout. This has seen a 124% increase of traffic through the village. He admitted that it is proving “difficult to find a practical solution to the difficulties” but that the Roads Service has commissioned consultants to review all options for a satisfactory solution.

The Minister also provided updates on the possibility of wind turbines in the Silent Valley area and the current situation regarding disabled access at Ballymoney Railway Station.

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