NI Conservatives economy spokesman Johnny Andrews condemns successive councils and the executive for inaction on the local economy in Strangford.

“The loss of 20 jobs with the closure of highly acclaimed Portaferry hotel is a disaster for the area. This is on top of the already catastrophic loss of jobs and business to the area as a result of the closure of the aquarium,” Andrews says.

“Successive councils  -  controlled by the two unionist parties - have allowed the Ards peninsula to get run down, with youth unemployment in Strangford over 26%, amongst the highest in Europe.”

“The closure of the Aquarium has taken £3m out of the local economy and the knock on effect is further business closure as we have seen with the announcement regarding Portaferry Hotel.  The Aquarium is a world class facility and should be preserved.  With private sector input, increased commercialism and with new ideas on marketing to boost visitor numbers, there is no reason why this facility cannot be made viable, particularly as it is situated in a location renowned for its outstanding natural environment.”

 Andrews continues:   “Meanwhile 3 MLAs from Strangford, all of whom are ‘in out’ ministers, and our DUP MP, deliver nothing to the local economy.  They seem more interested in electoral pacts, sectarian carve up, protecting SPAD salaries, flags and graduated responses .We see the DUP MP for Strangford travelling the world, running up the highest expense bill in Westminster and more recently airing his views on tackling poverty but with no outputs and no ideas. The only result of this negligence is a private sector in meltdown, another closure in Portaferry and more terrible news of more job losses.”

 “ It is time for a more commercial approach from our political representatives to boost the private sector, generate business activity and promote jobs, “ Andrews concludes. “ It is time for competent parties with working ideas  The Ards peninsula and Strangford as a whole deserve better.”