I wish to seek information from the Department for Infrastructure relating to their responsibilities to the village of Armoy under the Rural Needs Act NI 2016.
It will be well documented by your officials that Armoy Community Association, the political representatives for this area, teachers, parents and school children themselves have been requesting gritting in the vicinity of St. Olcan's Primary School, Armoy (202 Glenshesk Road, BT538XJ). In November 2016, Minister Hazzard rejected the request to Mervyn Storey MLA (Ref: Dfl/COR/1669/2016).
Since then, the Rural Needs Act 2016 has come into effect, putting your department under a responsibility to collect information on how it meets the needs of a rural area like Armoy. (S2(a) Rural Needs Act (NI) 2016).
The safety of our children is the most basic rural, indeed human, need. You have a statutory obligation to show due regard to rural needs. I am requesting how you can show this due regard through the non-salting or abject refusal to salt over a number of years of the Glenshesk Road.
I fail to see how due regard can be given to rural needs when each sub-zero day in Winter means the safety of the 90 children who make the treacherous journey to school each day on the unsalted Glenshesk Road is compromised.
As the responsible officer for your department, you must provide DAERA with information on how your department is showing its due regard for rural needs under your reporting obligations (S3(1)(a) Rural Needs Act 2016). I would appreciate if you could share with me the Armoy-related information here. If you think it not to be appropriate, I will request such information under Freedom of Information rights. If such information is not specific to the Armoy level, can I ask you how you can say with certainty that your department is showing due regard for rural needs if you do not have sufficient information to substantiate such an assertion.