Dickson Criticises Closure of Larne Danske Bank Branch

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has spoken out against plans by Danske Bank to close its premises in Main Street, Larne on 12 October 2018. Mr Dickson said: “I must express my severe disappointment at Danske’s decision. I believe that by closing this branch, they make it more difficult for particularly vulnerable people to access banking services without having the expense of travelling. “A cash machine and online banking is not a replacement for in-person banking support on-site. Many older people, do not use online banking services, and many do not even have internet access at home. Mr Dickson concluded: “I believe that by closing their Larne Branch, Danske Bank is failing in t

Dickson Welcomes Healthcare Initiative

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed news of a new healthcare initiative. The new initiative aims to create a single digital health and social care record for everyone in Northern Ireland, to replace the variety of older IT systems currently used to keep records. Mr Dickson commented: “This is good news for all the residents of East Antrim, as this step towards modernisation will improve efficiency for our health service, allowing healthcare professionals to more speedily give patients the care and treatment they require. “Healthcare professionals will now be able to access their clients’ records without having to wade through a variety of outdated systems. Patients will a

Dickson Urges Renewal of Childcare Vouchers Scheme

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, urges MPs to vote in favour of renewing and extending the Childcare Vouchers Scheme in the upcoming vote in October. The scheme, which was extended for another six months in March, is designed to help parents pay for childcare, but is facing closure again in October. Mr Dickson remarked: “Many working parents are struggling to find room in their budgets for childcare. The Childcare Vouchers Scheme can help with that by allowing them to reserve a portion of their salary for childcare and make it tax-free, saving up to £933 each year. “I congratulate Employers for Childcare on their lobbying efforts, which helped secure the six-month extension in Marc

Dickson Expresses Disappointment at Corran Integrated Delays

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has expressed his disappointment that the new, purpose-built Corran Integrated Primary School building will not be ready for the start of the school year in September. Speaking on the issue, Mr Dickson said: “It is not clear exactly what the cause of the delay is, although it appears to be around contractual issues. I have requested to be kept up to date, and will be following the issue closely. “I know that many parents and children will be disappointed by this delay. However, I will be holding the Department of Education to their promise to deliver this building no later than Christmas and to resolve these issues soon.”

Important to Continue to Welcome Refugees

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has said it is important we continue to be as welcoming a society as possible, as the 1,000th Syrian refugee arrived in Northern Ireland as part of a relocation programme. A further 78 refugees arrived today as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, which has provided sanctuary and support for the establishment of a new life in Northern Ireland for those fleeing the region. It now brings the total to 1,010. Mr Dickson said it was fitting it took place during Refugee Week. "Over the past almost three years, we have seen the arrival of many vulnerable people as part of this scheme. Anyone looking at what they have gone through in Syria canno

Dickson Supports Scrapping of PIP Assessment ’20 Metre Rule’

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has criticised the current system of PIP Assessment as unfair and discriminatory towards people with MS. Mr Dickson commented: “The current system of assessment for PIP requires people to walk an arbitrary 20 metres, but for many people with MS this fails to consider and capture fluctuation and hidden symptoms. It is clear the Government needs to replace this with a test based in the everyday reality of people with disabilities, and seek to support, rather than exclude to save money.” A recent MS Society Report found further negative impacts on people with MS as a result of welfare reform. For example: • 65% said the transition had a negative

Dickson says RQIA still not up to the Task

East Antrim MLA, Stewart Dickson, has stated that the Runwood Homes Dunmurry exposure has made it quite clear, beyond reasonable doubt, that the authority that inspects care homes, the RQIA, is still not up to the task. Mr Dickson said: “We’ve been here before, following the Cherrytree failure in Carrickfergus, which I exposed. There now needs to be an independent mechanism to address their failures once and for all. Other homes currently being inspected by RQIA cannot have confidence in the procedure, causing unnecessary stress for staff, patients and families. Trust in the system is gone. “There must be an independent inquiry into what went on behind the closed doors of Runwood Homes,

Dickson Welcomes Good Relations Week

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed the rebranding of Good Relations Week following a consultation. It was formerly known by the rather cumbersome title of Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week. Mr Dickson said: “I am delighted to welcome the rebranded Good Relations Week, all other aspects of the week are unaffected by this change and it will take place between 17-23 September with the theme being: Then, Now… Next? “I encourage organisations to apply early to avoid disappointment; the deadline for which is 27 July. It’s a great opportunity to submit event bids. “Events can include workshops, training events, launches, music events, showcases of work, public e

East Antrim Wants More Integrated Schools Says Poll

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed a survey that shows the majority of East Antrim residents support Integrated Education and would like more integrated schools in the constituency. The survey, conducted by Lucid Talk in March 2018, demonstrated a majority of respondents in East Antrim supported an increase in integrated education provision. Lucid Talk found that only 18% of parents in East Antrim said a school which reflects a particular single faith or cultural background, was important or very important in choosing a school for their child/children. This compared sharply to 78% of parents, who said that it was important, or very important, that their child or childre

Dickson Welcomes Online Voter Registration News

Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed news voters in Northern Ireland will soon be able to register to vote online. From June 18, people in Northern Ireland will be able to register to vote on the Electoral Office website. Prior to this, voters had to download a form and then post the application. "This is great news and has finally moved Northern Ireland's voting registration system into the 21st Century," said East Antrim MLA Mr Dickson. "While legislation was passed in December 2016 in relation to this matter, systems were not in place to enable voters here to register online prior to 2017's elections, or the West Tyrone by-election in March. "This will enable more people t

Slurry and Pig Farm Spreading Smells, what to do If You Want to Complain

Do you live in the areas of Monkstown, Jordanstown, Greenisland, Trooperslane or other areas that have been affected by an unpleasant odour, such as Pig Farms or the spreading of farm slurry? If this is the case, then there is a procedure for complaints should you wish to do so. The response from the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Department of Environmental Health to this issue can be viewed below: “In terms of the response by statutory agencies, this is dependent on the source of odour i.e. whether it is from the pig farm itself or from the spreading of slurry on fields in your area. Agricultural activities undertaken within the pig farm are subject to conditions laid down in a p

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