Since the new councils where elected, Mid Ulster council have had many highs and lows. The new council has come under heavy criticism over the new traffic system in the town of Dungannon.
The new look Market Square in Dungannon
Several messages of complaint were posted on the Dungannon Life page on Facebook regarding changes to the layout of Market Square which resulted from the first phase of the Public Realm Scheme.
The comments were received after details on traffic management, which will be in place as the second stage of the work continues, were announced by the Council.
The Council took responsibility for the services of 3 former Councils – Cookstown District Council, Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council and Magherafelt District Council – as well as a range of new services, on 1 April 2015.
The Council stated: “Lagan Construction Group are working on Thomas Street and Scotch Street from this week in the second phase of the public realm scheme in the town centre. Thomas Street: One-way traffic will be introduced from Market Square via Thomas Street to the Feeney’s Lane junction, with traffic exiting the Square maintained.”
Details for traffic between Greers Road and Feeney’s Lane were also announced.
The latest traffic arrangements drew some criticism from those using the Dungannon Life web page, with one woman stating: “Dungannon has some great shops only destroyed by the new traffic system its a joke”, while another user added: “Second phase of the public mess scheme I hope the designer of the first phase is proud of his/her disaster.”
A spokeswoman for Mid Ulster Council responded to the criticism: “We have undertaken extensive consultation in the development and implementation of the public realm scheme in the town centre, and continue to engage with local people at every stage.
“While there have been some concerns expressed about traffic, we have to emphasise that the changes to traffic flows which began this week are temporary and are simply to allow this particular stage of the works to take place. There are no new traffic arrangements in Dungannon as part of this second phase of work.”
However, a leading Dungannon businessman has described the town’s public realm works as “not friendly for pedestrians”.
The comments by Stephen McCammon on Menary’s came as it was revealed that the £7.5million spent on public realm schemes in the Mid-Ulster area is the second lowest in Northern Ireland.
Only the Fermanagh and Omagh area has had less spent on their schemes at £3.7million.
The schemes, which often involve installing natural stone paving, new lighting, new benches, bins and trees, have frustrated shoppers and traders alike due to over-running and projects going over budget.
In Dungannon, some traders are unhappy with the impact the public realm schemes have had so far.
Mr McCammon said: “I’m very much in favour of public realm schemes but the key thing is planning and I think the planning in phase one in Dungannon has been very difficult.
“We’ve now got a town that is quite simply not friendly for pedestrians, it does not enable pedestrians to shop the town, particularly Market Square, easily.”
Adrian McCreesh, from Mid-Ulster District Council, said phase one of the works scheme had been “an interesting challenge”.
He said the council was “taking a professional assessment of the traffic, the parking and all the issues that our traders have highlighted as part of phase one”.
“If there’s anything we can do to further develop and further enhance the success of phase one, we will do it.
“We will not be found wanting.”
Meanwhile it has been suggested that public realm schemes are unlikely to have a direct positive economic impact for towns.
It was also revealed that Mid-Ulster Council has contributed the least council money at £191,500.
Phase two is now in action and many residents and shop owners hope to see a vast improvement.