Traders in Glengormley have pleaded with the social development minister to urgently invest in the struggling village before more small businesses are forced to shut up shop.
Members of the Glengormley Traders Association met with Nelson McCausland last week to show him first hand the problems that the village has faced.
The traders have been campaigning for better infrastructure, including improved parking facilities, in order to save the village from becoming a ghost town.
They say a lack of investment since the 1960s and ‘70s, a proliferation of hot food outlets and poor parking facilities have combined to make extremely difficult trading conditions for small businesses.
Ed Burns from the Traders Association, which has recently amalgamated with the Glengormley Chamber of Commerce, said they urged the minister to make immediate investments rather than waiting for a proposed Masterplan to kick in 15 or 20 years down the line.
“That will be too late for many small business here. This is a last chance saloon for Glengormley and we made that clear to the minister. We need the infrastructure fixed, not just with elastoplast, but with permanent changes. We need better parking facilities to help generate investment in Glengormley and that has not happened yet.”
He said the group presented the minister with a letter demanding that an investment task force, made up of government departments, MLAs, Newtownabbey Borough Council and the traders group, be set up to address the concerns.
Newtownabbey Sinn Féin councillor Gerry O’Reilly said Glengormley has been left behind for too long and services and facilities haven’t kept pace with the population growth.
“I’m glad to welcome Minister McCausland here and reciprocate his support for Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy’s visit as Regional Development Minister to Glengormley earlier this year. It’s vital that traders get political support in their attempts to fully regenerate Glengormley and that includes roads and parking infrastructure.”
Speaking after the meeting Minster McCausland welcomed the opportunity to meet the traders. “We have to acknowledge that these are difficult economic times for all retailers and businesses generally,” he said.
“I have seen at first hand that Glengormley faces very harsh trading conditions. It is important that we can take effective action together with local traders and the private sector to maximise those opportunities to increase and enhance the vibrancy of our towns.”