North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley has thrown his parliamentary weight behind Ballymena chip shop owner Maureen Barr who has expressed fears about the damage which could be caused to local businesses by the lengthy ‘public realm’ scheme which kicked off in the town this week.
Maureen particularly feared that her Broughshane Street premises, highly reliant on the evening trade, would suffer a cash downturn due to the effective blocking of a large number of car parking spaces 24 hours perday over a six month period.
Yesterday, Maureen appealed to the contractors to at least remove the safety barriers from the street at weekends when work is not due to take place.
Now Ian Paisley has gone a stage further, querying the worthiness of the entire scheme.
“I spoke out against these plans at a well publicised meeting in the town hall - many traders had expressed their doubts about the relevance of what was being planned to business and that’s now something I am hearing all the time as I walk along the streets of Ballymena.
“This could be the ruination of a number of businesses in the town centre,” he fumed.
Mr. Paisley said the town hall meeting had received assurances that the works would be undertaken in a spirit of flexibility but he contrasted the promises with the light facing Maureen.
“This is the kind of business which depends utterly on ease of access yet these barriers are set to remain up for the entire length of the contract in this one street! I will be asking my party colleague, the DSD Minister Mervyn Storey, to ensure that the flexibility which we were told would be forthcoming is actually implemented.
“I will also be asking what measures of compensation will be available to traders who can verifiably demonstrate losses which have arisen as a result of these works. Like many people in the Ballymena area, I am astonished that the public realm scheme in the town centre will take 18 months.”