Dickson Welcomes Broadband Progress, but “More to Be Done”

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed news that 360,000 homes and businesses, more than 40% of properties in Northern Ireland, can now access full fibre broadband through the Openreach network. Mr Dickson welcomed the development saying: “Businesses and local people need online connectivity more than ever before, and so it is vital that we work to future-proof the network, and make Northern Ireland an attractive place to do business. “I note the aim is to reach 60% of properties with full fibre by the end of March 2021, and there is still much work to do for many rural communities in East Antrim, to provide for better connectivity. This is especially the case for the agricu

Dickson Calls for Social Partner Inclusion on Economic Advisory Group

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has called for the Economy Minister to include social partners in the newly announced Economic Advisory Group. The Group made up of representatives from Northern Ireland businesses and industry will advise the Minister and Department on opportunities for economic development in the future. Mr Dickson commented: “I was disappointed to see that the narrow membership of the group. Of course I welcome the participation of the those currently part of the group as they are leaders in business, however, I believe that we must ensure that we are inclusive in planning for a fairer future for all. “Representatives from the Trade Union movement have told me th

Dickson Welcomes Larne Line Investment at Yorkgate Station

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed proposals by Translink to redevelop Yorkgate Station in Belfast, as a boost for Larne Line users. Mr Dickson commented: “I welcome these proposals as an investment in the Larne Line and connectivity to East Antrim. I expect such a development will benefit many people who use the Larne Line and the station every day. “Going forward, with the move by Ulster University into the city, this station will become even more vital for access to jobs and education, and I hope that such proposals will encourage more people to take the train, when Covid-19 concerns are lessened. “In addition, I will also be continuing to press for the dualling of th

Dickson Welcomes News that Larne Social Enterprise is to Receive £25K Support

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed news that Access Employment Ltd (AEL) Larne has received £25,000 of support funds from the Department for the Economy. Mr Dickson commented: “Initially AEL had been denied the £25,000 support grant on the grounds that are still not clear. I subsequently wrote the Department and asked Assembly Questions, on this matter, calling on the Minister to ensure support is provided. “Although it is very late, I was still very happy to learn today that AEL’s appeal was upheld and the organisation has been able to access the grant. As Chair of the All Party Group on Social Enterprise I know well that AEL provides vital employment and support to peo

Dickson Says Act Now to Save Water

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has called on people to save water following an exceptionally dry summer. Mr Dickson commented: "This Spring has been the second driest on record according to the Met Office, and because many of us are at home all day, more water is being used domestically. "Consequently, NI Water have seen a significant drop in water levels at reservoirs. So it is more important than ever to think about how much water we use, and to conserve it as best as we can. I would recommend checking out the NI Water website for further information on how we can all take simple steps to cut water usage." More information at NI Water Website here: https://www.niwater.com/how-t

Dickson Encourages Local People to Take Advantage of Free Short-Term Courses

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has encouraged local people impacted by Covid-19 to take advantage of free short-term courses being offered at local Further and Higher Education institutions. Mr Dickson commented: “Given the serious economic challenges we face, and will face going forward, skills will be key to our recovery. That is why now is a great time to improve skills and employability, especially as these are being offered for free to those affected by the Pandemic. “Specifically, opportunities for training will involve digital, essential, and employability skills as well as courses on leadership and management. Furthermore, courses will be delivered online meaning more fle

Dickson Says Shop Around for Best Energy Deals

East Antrim MLA, Stewart Dickson, has encouraged Northern Ireland consumers to shop around for the best energy deals with a comparison tool developed by the Consumer Council. Mr Dickson commented: “The Consumer Council is the champion of consumer rights in Northern Ireland, and their free and independent comparison tool can help people save money on their household budgets, which is especially important at this time. “The Consumer Council also advises if you are happy to stay with your current energy provider, to consider contacting them to see if you can get a better deal. I would encourage people to visit the Consumer Council’s website for advice, and to use the price comparison tool to ma

Dickson Encourages Local Businesses to Check Coronavirus Guidance

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson has encouraged local businesses to check the guidance on the NIBusinessInfo website on how to reopen and operate safely. Mr Dickson commented: "As we try to navigate reopening retail and other businesses, guidance will help to ensure this can be done safely, and so I would strongly encourage people to check the advice available to them." Coronavirus: Working safely in different business settings: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-working-safely-different-business-settings

Dickson Expresses Deep Disappointment at Bombardier Job Losses

Alliance East Antrim MLA, Stewart Dickson, has expressed his deep disappointment after it was announced that Bombardier Aerospace in Belfast, would be cutting around 600 jobs. The company said 400 direct employees and around 200 agency workers would be made redundant due to ‘interruptions and challenges’ from the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Dickson commented: “This announcement will be deeply upsetting and worrying for those working at the plant and their wider families, many of whom live in East Antrim, and my thoughts are with them. The loss of these skilled jobs will also likely have a wider impact on our local economy. “Bombardier is of course a well-established and key link in the Norther

Dickson Encourages Local Businesses to Use Consumer Council Energy Comparison Tool

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has encouraged local businesses to find the best energy deal by using a new online Consumer Council electricity and natural gas comparison tool. Mr Dickson commented: “I think most businesses and other organisations will be looking very closely at budgets at this challenging time, and getting the best energy deal could really help to cut costs. In fact, the Consumer Council estimates that small businesses could save up to £2,159 on electricity and £770 on gas bills over the course of a year. “The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, and I would recommend that businesses check out their website, to see if they can make savings an

Dickson Welcomes £15.5M Fund for Charity Sector

Alliance East Antrim MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed the announcement by the Communities Minister of the £15.5 million Covid-19 Charities Fund, to help local charities facing financial difficulties as a result of the current Covid-19 Pandemic. The Scheme, administered by the National Lottery Community Fund, will provide up to £75,000 in support to eligible organisations with applications opening on Monday 15 June. Mr Dickson commented: “I have been calling for support for local charities and social enterprises with charitable status for months, and although it has taken longer than I would have liked, I welcome this support as a lifeline to the sector. “Charities provide a vital array of

Dickson Disappointed by Lack of Support for Sole Traders

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has expressed his disappointment that the Department for the Economy has no plans to bring in support for ‘sole traders’, where the sole employee is the business owner or company director. The response came from an Assembly Question to the Economy Minister on whether she intended to bring forward support for sole traders. Mr Dickson commented: “I have been contacted by many small business owners, that have been upset at the lack of support available to them, due mostly to the structure of their business. For example, some small businesses do not have fixed business premises, so may not benefit from rates relief or a business support grant. “Therefor

Stay Local, Shop Local is Key to Recovery – Dickson

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has said that the key to the recovery of our local economy is to ‘Stay Local and Shop Local’. Mr Dickson was speaking following the announcement by the Economy Minister that all non-essential retailers with direct access to outside can open from Friday 12 June. Mr Dickson commented: “As we move out of lockdown we must be responsible and mindful of the need to keep ourselves and others safe. I believe one of the best ways to do this is to stay local and shop local, where possible. “Our High Streets and local businesses have been hit hard by this crisis, but our support can help retailers get back on their feet and work towards our recovery. So I woul

Dickson Expresses His Thanks During Carer’s Week

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has commented that the current Covid-19 Pandemic has shown us more than ever that our carers deserve a better deal for their work and contribution. Mr Dickson commented: “2020 has brought new challenges to us all, not least our unpaid carers, many of whom have been providing care unpaid for years. Further to this, many people have also taken on new responsibilities to help look after some of the most vulnerable in society, such as those ‘shielding’ due to Covid-19 and I want to take this opportunity to express my thanks.” Mr Dickson was speaking during Carer’s Week, which is an annual campaign, running from 8 – 14 June this year, highlighting the wo

Dickson calls for votes at 16 to be extended to Northern Ireland

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has called for votes at 16 to be extended to Northern Ireland, after new rules allowing it came into force today in Wales. Sixteen and 17-year-olds in Wales can now vote in Senedd elections, with the next one expected next year. Around 65,000 16 and 17-year-olds are expected to benefit from the move. “I welcome this move for Wales, which follows the example of Scotland in its independence referendum and local government elections,” said Mr Dickson. “But young people in Northern Ireland also deserve the right to vote. Those aged 16 and 17 are old enough to work, pay tax and join the armed forces. Therefore it makes sense they should have the right to decide ho

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