19/05/2017

Plans To Extend Sunday Trading Hours Rejected

Plans to extend Sunday trading hours in Northern Ireland have been rejected following a vote at Belfast City Council.

The council voted 12-3 opposing the the move. The DUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP were all against the proposals.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: "Retail NI welcomes the comprehensive vote by Belfast City Councillors to drop plans to relax Sunday trading across the city. This would have given a further unfair competitive advantage to large supermarkets and disadvantaged local small shops, whose Sunday morning trade is vital for their survival.

"Furthermore this vote puts down an important marker to the other ten Local Councils not to consider relaxing Sunday trading through the backdoor of Resort Status.

"At the Committee this morning, we recommended that Lord Mayor immediately convene a 'Weekend Summit' to include Retail NI, Belfast Chamber of Commerce, USDAW and other interested groups to agree a strategy to improve the retail and hospitality offer in Belfast at the weekend for tourists and shoppers.
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"Belfast has a fantastic retail and hospitality offer, but we need to look at how the city can make further improvements to improve the visitor experience."

However, Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl said she was "extremely frustrated" the proposal had fallen at the first hurdle.

She said: "The failure to modernise Belfast City Centre not only makes city centre regeneration difficult, but could cost jobs and fails to open the city up to outside investment opportunities.

"Our proposal to limit opening hours to Belfast City centre took into account Unionist Councillor's concerns and those worries of small, independent retailers outside of the core city centre area.

"Belfast is an opening and welcoming city, yet on a Sunday when tourists arrive they are met with closed doors and limited activities on offer. We must do better. Especially as over 81 percent of people consulted so far believe it will benefit tourism.

"Alliance will continue to work towards achieving a solution that not only opens our city, but respects the views of others and I hope to continue consulting on this issue until we can deliver that."

(CD)

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