Public realm works aimed at sprucing up Ballymena’s town centre could lead to one of the town’s most popular chip shops taking a financial battering, it has been claimed.
Maureen Barr, who has spent almost three decades building up a loyal clientele at her popular Broughshane Street chippie says she was horrified to learn that footpath and roadworks outside her premises could last up to six months.
During that time, parking will be severely curtailed and now she fears her business will take a hammer blow over that period.
“I only found out the true scale and impact of these works last Wednesday,” said Maureen. “I genuinely thought I could deal with a bit of digging for a couple of weeks - but when I was told that they would be effectively blocking off one side of Broughshane Street for three months before repeating the performance on the other side, I was stunned.”
The prospect of workmen digging up and relaying footpaths during the day was a bad enough worry for Maureen but the worst was yet to come.
“I had just got my head around that piece of information when I was told that the crash barriers put up to define the working area would be left in place at night.
“It was then that I realised just how big an impact this would make on my business in particular. While other people who rely mainly on the daytime trade are most certainly going to feel the pinch, I’m really going to be hit hard.
“As a chip shop, the teatime and early evening period is absolutely key - that is when the bulk of our custom is done and mostly to people who want to be able to park as close to the shop as possible. If the barriers stay up all night seven days a week then that will significantly harm my potential to do business.
“I would be appealing for some common sense here,” added Maureen. “People will say that customers can park on the other side of the road but if anyone has been up around Broughshane Street in the early evening they will know that it is pretty difficult to get a parking space as it is!”
Maureen said she was appealing for the barriers to be taken away ‘at least from Friday to Monday morning’ to allow parking over weekends when this would not interfere with work.
“I’m raising this now so that other shopkeepers are aware what it is coming at them in the future,” she said. “I think we all have a right to know why it takes so long to do a single stretch. Are enough resources available? And if not, why not?”
Ballymena Times has submitted details of Maureen’s concerns to Mid & East Antrim Council and is awaiting a response.