THE Market Development Association (MDA) has launched an ambitious survey designed to gather the information necessary to ensure that local progress meets the needs of local people.

The MDA says its ‘Rebuilding the Local Economy’ survey has been created to help “rebuild the Market as a thriving and prosperous community and to ensure that any economic development meets the needs of its people.”

The survey seeks to set up a database of what the community needs and invites local people to contribute their thoughts on a range of areas including  skills/qualifications/education, economic development, work, unemployment, disability, rights at work, trade unions, impact of the Coronavirus, the cost-of-living crisis and social profile.

In 2017/2018, the MDA carried out a community survey in which 11% of the population aged 16 and over and a third of households completed it. 

The key findings of a 2017/18 survey were that 94 per cent of residents saw overdevelopment as a threat to the future of the area; that 86 per cent of residents believed there was a lack of decent and affordable housing; 82 per cent of residents were concerned about addiction and mental health; 24 per cent had no qualifications; and 28 per cent of residents were unemployed.  

The Market Development Association responded to the feedback in that survey and were able to achieve a number of successes as a result. The Save the Market Campaign has fought four campaigns and stopped three unpopular planning applications, including the Stewart Street skyscrapers. On housing the MDA have secured 94 new homes in the Gasworks while 14 per cent of the population and 48 per cent of households were supported through a range of employment training courses.

It's hoped the data collated in this new survey will bring even more positive outcomes the historic South Belfast district. The MDA has formed a strategic partnership with Queen’s University to drive development in the area.

The survey was launched in the Market Community Centre by the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA, and Professor Brendan Murtagh of Queen’s University. 

Minister Hargey said: "I was inspired by the level of engagement from the local community. The Market has been leading on this work across Belfast and Ireland. It is through grassroots action and campaigns to secure public ownership in our communities that allow us to break down barriers to employment, housing and quality of life for our local families.

"This cost-of-living crisis has shown us that we need to break dependencies from large corporations who do not put their profits back into our working-class communities. 

"Ownership of land in our local communities will allow us to build strong sustainable communities with community wealth-building that enables us to distribute resources for the benefit of our community's future rather than for multinational companies."