‘Shabby shopfronts steal Square’s shine’

A vacant , rundown Lisburn city centre building of a kind said to be marring the look of Market Square.
A vacant , rundown Lisburn city centre building of a kind said to be marring the look of Market Square.

Shabby shopfronts and vacant premises are taking the shine off Lisburn’s new-look Market Square, according to at least one local man.

Coincidentally, his observations come in the same week that Lagan Valley election candidate Paul Givan has been singing the praises of the Empty Property Rate Relief Scheme, said to have benefitted 28 businesses in Lagan Valley since its introduction around four years ago.

Politicians, no less than property-owners, came in for a dressing down as the Lisburn shopper, who did not want to be named, complained about pockets of apparent neglect that jarred with the otherwise “modern look” of the revamped square.

“The museum, linen centre and UDR memorial also provide attractions for tourists,” he said, adding that it was “a great pity” it was marred by premises, “. . .in a neglected state, with spoutings overgrown with grass and algae on the facades.”

He went on to suggest any local politician willing to personally spruce up the offending facades might win themselves at least one vote.

“With the elections looming and prospective MLAs scaling telegraph poles,” he said, “perhaps one would make a worthwhile gesture with ladder, bucket, trowel and sponge and make these premises more appealing.

“If there was visible evidence of this industrious action I would consider giving the good Samaritan my first-preference vote.”

Himself seeking re-election as a Lagan Valley MLA, the DUP’s Paul Givan, however, this week flagged up the benefits in Lagan Valley of the Empty Property Rate Relief Scheme introduced in 2012.

He said: “The DUP recognised the economic challenges facing our business community and introduced a scheme to encourage businesses to expand and open new businesses in properties that had been vacant and provided a financial incentive with rates being reduced for the first year of business.

“This scheme allowed 28 businesses to open in vacant properties with an investment of £145,934.

“This has created new employment opportunities for local people and ,with the £5m public-realm scheme in the city centre completed, it is important to support local businesses to expand and attract new business.

“Through schemes introduced by the DUP, including the Small Business and Vacant Property Relief Schemes, this has helped attract new business and is an important tool to continue attracting new businesses across the constituency.”