Make 2014 the year Lisburn turned a corner

The past few years have been difficult for Lisburn with the global recession having a devastating impact on the retail sector and public confidence. Speaking to the Chamber of Commerce, they sense the beginnings of a recovery with businesses seeing an upturn in trade and banks reporting renewed interest in investment for business expansion.

The decision of the MOD to relocate a full Army Battalion to Thiepval Barracks is a major boost for our local economy at a critical time and the new families will be welcomed into our community early in 2014. However, there is much that remains to be achieved.

The ongoing efforts to attract investment into the city centre are critical to the recovery of the retail sector.

Moving forward with the new planning laws will also be vital if we are to secure progress on John Lewis coming to Sprucefield and I am hopeful that 2014 will finally see this issue resolved.

The Environment Minister needs to get real and recognise the enormous boost that this store and distribution centre would provide for the local economy. John Lewis have been remarkably patient and remain committed to coming to Lisburn with their first store in Northern Ireland.

With the RUAS now on site and the huge success of their first show at the Maze, the scene is set to attract significant investment in infrastructure and jobs on what is the biggest development opportunity in Northern Ireland.

I will continue to work closely with all of my elected colleagues in the Assembly and the Council and with community representatives to help make 2014 the year that Lisburn turned a corner and set itself firmly back on the road to growth and prosperity.

I wish all of my constituents a happy and peaceful new year in 2014.