Joining forces to get Northern Ireland working again

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An action plan to improve retail business in town centres has been launched by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, with the Ballymena Chamber of Commerce.

The Alternative Programme for Government outlines 97 recommendations, setting out policy priorities for the each of the nine new Executive departments, which will be established after the Assembly election. NIIRTA is the first business organisation to produce a plan for the new nine departments to get Northern Ireland working again.

Glyn Roberts, NIIRTA Chief Executive said: “NIIRTA is the first business organisation to publish a comprehensive five year policy plan for all nine departments and for the new Assembly. While retail and town centres are central to this report, this is a plan for our economy as a whole.”

“With the nine new Executive departments coming into effect, it is time for a fresh start. Retail is the largest contributor to our private sector economy but today our members still feel that there are too many barriers to business in place. We are calling for the Executive to take our proposals on board and to work to secure retail’s rightful position as a key partner for growth in a new, more efficient private sector led Northern Ireland.”

“In our Economic Programme for Government we outline detailed proposals for a radical reform of business rates, new Enterprise Zones, City Deals, more BIDs and investment in infrastructure”

“Action on addressing the high business costs, a coordinated plan to tackle red tape and creating a more vocational and professional education system are all key priorities in our Plan”

The President of Ballymena Chamber of Commerce, Ronan McCann said: “We very much welcome the NIIRTA plan and their efforts to ensure that we are all on the best path towards securing longer term sustainable economic growth.”

“It is vital that Ballymena Business owners engage with candidates in all parties to influence their economic policy priorities”

Some of the main priorities of the NIIRTA Plan include:

·Expansion of the Empty Premises Rate Relief

·Introduction of new Capital Allowance Rate Relief Scheme to support business growth

·Rural Rate Relief Scheme for Villages

·Appointment of a Junior Minister for Entrepreneurship and Skills in the Department for Economy

·Creation of Level Three Retail Apprenticeship

·UK Remaining part of a reformed EU

·Establish North-South Retail Forum

·Entrepreneurship being made a compulsory module from aged 14-18

·Set up Northern Ireland Town Team to coordinate regeneration policy

·Organised International Infrastructure Conference to identify models of modernisation

·New strategically focused Supply Chain Forum

For further information contact Glyn Roberts on 07515710517.