DARD Direct Office for South and East Antrim
20 July 2009
DARD Direct is a new one-stop-shop approach designed to improve the delivery of DARD services to farmers and farm families.
Minister Gildernew said: “I have found making my decision on the final DARD Direct office location to be particularly difficult, due mainly to its impact on some of my staff. However, having carefully considered all the issues relevant to the location for an office to deliver services to farm businesses in the South and East Antrim area, I can confirm that it will be located in the centre of the South and East Antrim area (eg, between Mallusk and Antrim) to optimise accessibility to farmers across the catchment area.
“I am glad to be able to announce this location and end speculation and uncertainty for our customers and staff in the area.
“I also want to reassure Larne staff and customers that the Larne office will remain open until a new central office is ready for business. This is expected to take a considerable period of time and in the interim we will work closely with NIPSA to try and further mitigate any impacts on our staff.
“My officials will now start work with DFP (Department of Finance and Personnel) colleagues to identify a suitable building for an office, which will optimise accessibility for farmers.”
This decision completes the picture of where the 12 DARD Direct offices will be located, subject to identifying suitable accommodation. The other DARD Direct offices are planned to be in Enniskillen, Omagh, Dungannon, Armagh, Newry, Downpatrick, Newtownards, Ballymena, Coleraine, Claudy and Magherafelt.
The roll out of DARD Direct is a major project and will take place in phases over the next few years, as suitable premises are identified.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. DARD Direct is a new one-stop-shop approach designed to improve the delivery of DARD services to farmers and farm families. It brings together six Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) delivery service areas including Veterinary, Grants and Subsidies, Countryside Management, CAFRE Development Advisers, Rural Enterprise and Quality Assurance Services into single sites, strategically located throughout the North.
2. An EQIA public consultation was completed on 5 September 2008 and received 29 responses. A draft Final EQIA report, prepared following the public consultation period looks at the equality issues raised by staff, customers and Section 75 groups, indicates that DARD will increase the number of offices from the original proposal of 10 to 12 to address equality issues highlighted during the consultation.
3. The ARD Committee discussed the DARD Direct issue on the 2 December and 19 May.