Politicians delighted with Newcastle pontoon scheme

Politicians delighted with Newcastle pontoon scheme

13 October 2021

LOCAL politicians have welcomed a decision by Newry, Mourne and Down Council to install a new floating pontoon at Newcastle harbour to provide access to boats for people with disabilities or limited mobility.

The provision of the new pontoon has been welcomed by council chairwoman Cathy Mason and councillors Willie Clarke and Laura Devlin.

Cllr Mason said she is delighted that the local authority has agreed to install the new boarding platform and revealed that she attended a recent site meeting with Cllr Clarke and council officials at the harbour to discuss the future plans for access.  

She continued: “I am pleased the council has recognised the need to install this new boarding platform at Newcastle harbour to ensure disability access to boats. Years of neglect has meant that those with reduced mobility have not been able to access the water and enjoy the local boat tours and scenery this local beauty spot has to offer.”

The chairwoman added: “This new pontoon is indeed a first step in the regeneration of the harbour area.”   

Cllr Clarke said the business case paving the way for the new floating pontoon was approved at the council’s Enterprise, Regeneration and Tourism Committee meeting on Monday night.

 “There is no doubt that with an ambitious and focused vision for the future, the harbour area could become a unique attraction, meeting the needs of not just the local community, but also as an exciting destination for those that visit Newcastle,” he said.

Cllr Devlin, who has also been pursuing the pontoon and met with council officials and harbour users, said a range of ideas were discussed on the way forward, with a particular focus on access for those with disabilities. 

“This is something in this day and age which should be taken as a given,” she continued. “Officers agreed to work up plans and proposals for a pontoon that would allow those with disabilities to access down onto a boat.”

“Everybody, no matter their age, gender, race, religion or disability, should have equal access to services and facilities. We live in such an amazing location and there’s something extra special about the harbour with the back of the Mournes so for this to be an option for all is only right and proper.”

Ian Kelly, the owner of Mourne Sea Tours said that the platform was “transformational” for those who use the harbour.  

“Many people have struggled to board our boat over the last two seasons by using a ladder as access. It has also impaired the elderly, the less mobile and those confined to wheelchairs,” he continued.

“With this season now over, it’s imperative that this solution is in place for the next season so that many more people will have an opportunity to experience what we offer and enjoy our spectacular coastline and spectacular views from from the sea.”

The local authority committee’s recommendation is set to be formally ratified at next month’s meeting of the full council.