Shop owner’s anger over trade disruption

Ballymena businessman Eugene Diamond slams electricity chiefs after his shop is surrounded by diggers and workmen without warning. INBT 48 EUGENE
Ballymena businessman Eugene Diamond slams electricity chiefs after his shop is surrounded by diggers and workmen without warning. INBT 48 EUGENE

A Ballymena businessman has hit out at electricity chiefs after his shop was surrounded by diggers and workmen without warning.

Newsagent Eugene Diamond criticised NIE Networks for failing to give him any notice of the disruption which descended around his Broughshane Street premises.

Red barriers lined the street around his business this week as cable laying work continued.

Mr Diamond said his shop had been left almost marooned - and it has hit his takings in the run up to Christmas.

He said: “They are laying cable and there should have been some sort of communication with us as retailers. There is a catering company beside me, and he had no contact whatsoever either.

“Nobody told us when it would be starting; nobody told us when it would be finishing.

“We are people who employ people, I am an employer, I have to find the wages for staff every day.

“And for the last seven or eight days, my shop has been nearly inaccessible because of this. There was no notification given whatsoever,” he said yesterday.

The businessman, whose popular shop is a key landmark with local people on one of the main routes in and out of Ballymena town centre, called on electricity chiefs to put in place processes to give businesses advance warning of disruption.

He added: “There should be something in place that they have to tell you what is going on. There has been a dramatic drop in my business.

“A newsagents is a business people need access to; you can’t do the sale of newspapers, confectionery and every day essentials online.”

Mr Diamond said the street chaos has been the talk of Ballymena as it coincided with other public realm work in Ballymena town centre which has been ongoing for months.

Added the shopkeeper: “A Belfast businessman who happened to be in the town last week had to walk a blind lady down Broughshane Street with her dog because both sides of the street had been dug up at the same time.”

Mr Diamond said he was not blaming the actual workmen involved in the scheme but those who plan the work.

In recent days he made contact with a local councillor and MLA who were able to get some answers to his questions and he was told that thankfully the work is scheduled to finish this week.

Added the businessman: “I was told they will have the section outside my shop finished and they will be off the street by Friday because there is an embargo that they are not allowed to be on the streets then because of Christmas so it doesn’t impact on the festive trading period.

“However, it is has already hit me.”

A NIE Networks spokeswoman said last night: “Contractors working on behalf of NIE Networks have been carrying out work to replace an electricity cable in the Broughshane Street area of Ballymena.

“This work is designed to improve the local electricity infrastructure. Reinstatement along the roadside will be completed by the end of this week to remove the roadworks before the Christmas period.”