The Minister of Regional Development, Danny Kennedy, and Sammy Wilson, Finance Minister, visited Lisburn City Centre last week at the request of Mr Jeffrey Donaldson, MP, following discussions with Lisburn City Centre Management and Lisburn Chamber of Commerce.
The objective of the visit was to hear business concerns in the City Centre, and in particular to discuss business closures, rateable values, car parking charges and other barriers to commerce.
The Ministers met at Lisburn City Centre Management offices, from where they were escorted on a tour of the City with Mr Jeffrey Donaldson MP; Alderman Allan Ewart, Chair of Lisburn City Centre Management; the Right Worshipful the Mayor, Alderman William Leathem and Alderman Jim Dillon, Chairman of the Council's Economic Development Committee.
Alderman Jim Dillon said: "This Council is very proactive in its economic development activities and has helped to bring a host of new and emerging businesses into the City of Lisburn. However there is a problem with business sustainability in these very difficult economic times. Spending is down as people have less disposable income and among other casualties are retail units who have to operate with large-scale overheads much of the time and who face stiff competition on an ongoing basis.
"We are grateful to Jeffrey Donaldson for highlighting the issues facing Lisburn Retailers to the Ministers and we feel our concerns were clearly put to both Ministers."
Alderman Allan Ewart said: "Lisburn, like most towns and cities across the UK is facing a difficult economic climate. However, we must not talk down our city and instead be proactive in our approach to dealing with the issues that we can affect. Today has given us the opportunity to demonstrate to the Ministers measures that can be put in place to provide us with some 'quick wins' for Lisburn."
Following the walkabout a meeting was hosted by Lisburn City Council in the Island Council Chamber. This was attended by local business owners, both Ministers, other Elected Members, the Chamber of Commerce and Lisburn City Centre Management.
Pictured in Lisburn Square are (l-r) Alderman Allan Ewart, Chair of Lisburn City Centre Management; Minister Sammy Wilson; Mayor, Alderman William Leathem; Minister Danny Kennedy; Mr Jeffrey Donaldson, MP and Alderman Jim Dillon, Chairman of Lisburn City Council's Economic Development Committee.