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Education Minister discusses issue of school access during visit to Slemish College


Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, Principal Michael Bennett, along with students pictured at Slemish College.


Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen, visited Slemish College, in Ballymena on Wednesday afternoon (8 December), and met Principal Michael Bennett, staff, pupils, and others.

The Minister toured part of the school site and discussed a number of issues, including COVID-19 and school access.


Parents of children at the school and members of the local community who live in the Larne Road area of the town, have been deeply unhappy with a new road layout design implemented by the Department of Infrastructure.


The changes have seen the road narrowed and parking bays removed, creating what some have branded a ‘ridiculously-wide’ footpath.

Local MLA, Jim Allister, has given his support to the objections demanding that the “Larne Road road narrowing at Slemish College, must go”.


Commenting on yesterday’s visit by the Minister to the site, Mr Allister said:


“With the Roads Minister refusing to visit the scene of the madness of her staff, which has created traffic chaos outside Slemish College, I welcome the fact that the Education minister did accept my invitation to see for herself the folly of a scheme which removed lay-by parking for buses, resulting in danger and confusion.


“Today (Wednesday 8 December) Minister Michelle McIlveen joined the Principal, Paul Frew and I to see the absurd situation whereby at one point the footpath is wider than the road carriageway.


“The removal of the parking lay-by for buses and cars was not just absurd but the product of ideological zealotry which thinks cars and buses must be driven off our roads. The lunacy of thinking hundreds of pupils from miles away can be forced to walk or cycle to school by creating traffic chaos on the Larne Road, is beyond reason, yet it is the crazed modus operandi of the Department of Infrastructure.”


As the Councillor who helped first raise the issue, Matthew Armstrong, said:


“With the Education Minister now in agreement that the bus lay-by should be restored, I trust Nichola Mallon will finally listen.”