The name Armagh City and District Council is to be dropped from all local road signs erected from here on in ahead of the amalgamation of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Councils in 2015.
The decision was taken during the course of a recent debate on letters from Year 8 History pupils of Markethill High School, which proposed the inclusion of townland names on road signs, Armagh I can reveal.
UUP Councillor Jim Speers paid tribute to the pupils for their project and said it was commendable that this issue had been highlighted by local school children. He said that there was general support for the provision of townland names on road signs and felt this was something that should be taken forward into the new ABC Council.
But Cllr Speers said it was not always as simplistic an exercise as some people thought, with as many as 10 different townlands in some areas.
While supporting the proposals in principle, he felt that it needed more work to be done, including an analysis of current roads and how many townlands they passed through.
SF Councillor Cathy Rafferty referred to a scheme completed in the Tullysaran area in relation to this issue and the erection of stone markers indicating townland names throughout the area. But she also referred to difficulties with planning permission and suggested that perhaps the school could be encouraged to undertake such a project in their own area.
SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon said he felt it was something the Council should be taking forward.
In light of RPA, he also suggested that they should no longer be erecting road signs with ‘Armagh City and District Council’ included and suggested it might be useful to prepare a paper on this issue for consideration by the Statutory Transition Committee (STC).
Independent Unionist Councillor Paul Berry agreed it was a good idea in principle, but was not something that could be decided on immediately. He referred to a scheme undertaken by Omagh Council and suggested that officers should obtain further information and costs involved.
Councillor Speers stressed the importance of going back to the school to thank them for their correspondence and commending their proposal regarding the use of townland names on road signs.
SDLP Councillor Sharon Haughey-Grimley referred to work undertaken in relation to this issue by Poyntzpass Historical Society and the Ulster GAA. She said it was a matter of pulling together all existing information to assist them with taking forward this work when funding became available.
She referred to funding available from DCAL for this type of research work and suggested officers should explore this option.
Councillor O’Hanlon said any report being brought back should include options as to how this work could best be taken forward.
It was agreed at the conclusion of the debate that the Council should respond to the letter from Markethill High School welcoming and commending the proposal, and that a report be brought back to committee following investigation of projects in other areas, to include options for progressing proposals, costs and any potential funding.
It was also agreed that a report on this issue should be brought to the STC to ensure a uniform approach across the three councils and that no further road signs should be erected with ‘ACDC’ included on them in light of RPA and the forthcoming amalgamation.