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New chapter for Darkley

Thursday, 2 February 2017

New chapter for Darkley thumbnailCommunity Group vows to ‘put shoulder to wheel’ to improve village

THE newly-constituted Darkley Rural Community Group is setting itself the task of devising an action plan to help improve the village - and has vowed to 'put the shoulder to the wheel' in its efforts.

Chairperson, Willie Monaghan, who was recently elected into the role along with a new committee, said that "serious deprivation and dereliction" were problems in the area, but ones that the group is determined to tackle.

"There is much apathy in Darkley and the surrounding area regarding community development," he explained. "For many years, the village was neglected and did not receive the support it needed."

Problems, he argued, that still persist. "There is still serious deprivation in the area," he explained, "dereliction is rife throughout the village, the general appearance of the village shows serious neglect. The village shop lies vacant on the main street and the local community hall requires serious attention and proper management to make it the asset that it was intended to be."

Looking to the future, Willie insisted the group's "first task is to earn the trust of the local community who have been let down time and time again".

"We are currently carrying out a community survey to identify the needs of those in the area and we invite everyone in the community to take part. The group has met numerous times with council officers and local elected representatives as well as networking with groups involved in community development throughout the council area.

"The group has also very successfully organised a photographic competition, to show the beauty of Darkley and the surrounding area, which culminated in three photographic exhibitions during which money was raised for community development and for Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke."

The group is now organising a planning event to be held in Darkley Primary School in late February and all the community, various external bodies, elected representatives and the local businesses will be invited. "We intend to formulate an action plan that will guide us on our way forward," added Willie.

He underlined the importance of everyone coming along by saying that at last month's meeting was "not greatly attended, most of those who did attend have come on to the committee and are willing to put their shoulder to the wheel".

"We have a few new faces that were not were not on the steering group," added Willie. "There is great enthusiasm and determination to make a change in Darkley and the surrounding area.

"We also have a number of people in the community who have offered their support with any events that we intend to hold, which is positive."

Harnessing the growing enthusiasm, added Willie, is key to bringing about positive change to the area. "It's 180 years since six small houses, the beginnings of Darkley village, appeared in the 1837 valuations. Throughout those 180 years, the village has had many ups and downs. With the help and support of the Darkley community, we as a group hope to lead regeneration in the village and beyond.

"We want to see dereliction tackled in the village as well as an environmental renewal scheme to improve its appearance. This will in turn lead to an increase in population and a greater demand for services. The knock-on effect would also be good news for the local primary school and football club with whom we already have a great relationship," explained Willie.

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