Public Realm Scheme concerns “justified” - Paisley

Pedestrian walkways have been created on the town centre streets included in the Public Realm Scheme while works are ongoing. (Editorial Image).
Pedestrian walkways have been created on the town centre streets included in the Public Realm Scheme while works are ongoing. (Editorial Image).

Local MP Ian Paisley has claimed his concerns over the Ballymena Public Realm streetscape scheme “have been justified”.

In a statement on the issue to The Times on Friday, he said: “There are those who are now complaining about the scheme who ought to have supported the objections that I raised at the time.“

Mr Paisley pointed out that he sent a letter to the Minister back in June outlining issues including loss of trade, the need for compensation for traders and highlighting the opportunity to minimise disruption by keeping work to evenings and weekends.

The MP said that the Minister had responded but that he was “disappointed that not all these proposals have been adopted.”

He said: “On the loss of trade and a call for compensation, the Minister claims that the works “should lead to an increased trade...the Department does not pay compensation”.

“I would be delighted to know where the evidence is for this claim that increased trade is now going to follow. I also know traders would be delighted also to realise this, however, if trade does not increase once again after these works will compensation be then offered?

“I welcome that some efforts have been made to relax some of the barriers that are in the town centre but yesterday I walked the length of the town centre and found many barriers and little by way of work being carried out.

“Many of the traders who have spoken with me are bemused by the fact they see barriers outside their property and no work actually being done.

“Whilst I will not say at this point that Public Realm Scheme is an outright disaster, time alone will tell if the disruption has been worth it and trade will increase,” Mr Paisley said.