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Agnew targets urban planning

The north Down man tasked with leading the Green Party forward has said that town centre planning is top of the local agenda.

Steven Agnew (31) was elected as the party’s new leader on Monday after seeing off competition from South Down councillor Cadogan Enright.

Mr Agnew is currently the party’s spokesperson and has also been selected to run as both MLA and council candidate in North Down in the |upcoming elections in May.

Last week, the Green's only MLA, Brian Wilson, announced that he is |to stand down at the next Assembly election. He had represented North Down at Stormont since 2007.

Mr Agnew, who lives in Bangor, said some of the most pressing issues he faced were right on his own doorstep. He explained: “Town centre planning is an issue, Queen’s Parade is a big one, for example.

“I’ve also been involved in the Save Our Skyline (SOS) Bangor campaign, where I’ve been working with residents to oppose a five-storey apartment block. There is a lot of concern among local residents about that.”

Turning to the bigger job at hand, Mr Agnew added: “I look forward to serving the party in this new role and taking us forward into the next election when we will give the people of Northern Ireland a viable alternative to the failed politics of the past.

“My first task as Green Party leader will be to put to bed the myth that the Green Party is a single issue party. While we were born out of the environmental movement our aim has never been to put environmental concerns above all others.

“The Green Party wants to see all |political decisions based on whether they are good for the economy, |good for people and good for the |environment.

“This is the first time that the Green Party in Northern Ireland has elected a local leader and reflects the party’s growing confidence and increasing membership base as it goes forward to the elections.”

In 2009, Mr Agnew was the Green Party in Northern Ireland’s candidate in the European election securing 15,674 votes — more than three times the Green’s previous European result.

In a change to the historical hierarchy, party members decided at a meeting in October that the Green Party |in Northern Ireland needed a clear and definable leader to act as both figurehead and primary spokesperson.

Belfast Telegraph