City traders quiz politicians

Lagan Valley MLAs Jonathan Craig (left) and Edwin Poots at Lurganure Road, Maze.
Lagan Valley MLAs Jonathan Craig (left) and Edwin Poots at Lurganure Road, Maze.

In what was described as a constructive meeting, Lisburn traders and local politicians recently debated the changing face of retail and challenges to local businesses.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson addressed a solid gathering of traders in an event organised by the city’s Chamber of Commerce and attended by all six local MLAs.

The DUP’s Jonathan Craig said searching questions were asked about town centre developments and there was a healthy debate around the challenge posed by the internet and direct ordering.

“We have to realise,” he said, “that that is how people are choosing to shop, but there are interesting opportunites if we look at internet purchases, with a lot of smaller shops changing to operate as pick-up points for internet sales; if someone’s picking up a parcel the likelihood is they will purchase other items in that store. Businesses need to grab opportunities and change with the times.”

Discussions also reportedly turned opportunities at Sprucefield and the long lamented lack of a Knockmore link to help open up development at that end of town.

“I would say the mood was one of absolute realism,” said Mr Craig. “It was constructive and there was an exchange of views and opinions.

“There was agreement among businesspeople that there is a slow recovery in the economy; its brittle, but it’s there, and we need to ensure we do nothing to upset that recovery but try to encourage it.”