Retail Chief Says NI's Rural Areas Must Not Be Left Behind

The Chief Executive of Retail NI has made a plea to ensure the region's towns and villages are not left behind as urban centres develop.

Glyn Robert's comments come after the Belfast City Deal was approved by Secretary of State Karen Bradley earlier this week.

The retail body believes that rural communities are facing challenges due to a recent spate of ATM robberies by criminal gangs.

Mr Roberts said: "With the Belfast Regional City Deal given the green light this week, the Derry-Strabane Deal moving forward and progress in Belfast City Centre with the Primark Cordon, it is crucially important that our rural towns and villages are not left behind.

"There is no more important issue in forthcoming council elections than the regeneration of our towns and cities. Retail NI wants to see the newly elected Local Councils hit the ground running in May with Town and Village deals in their rural areas.
News Image
"In our recently published 'Regeneration NI' report, Retail NI outlined the need for the establishment of a Rural Town and Village Infrastructure Fund to support the regeneration of our rural towns and villages. Investing in our rural towns should be on the list of key infrastructure projects, alongside the A5, A6, York Street Interchange and the Belfast Transport Hub."

Mr Roberts also called for a rural small business strategy to support existing businesses and the next generation of SMEs, as well as a review of rural transport connectivity and accelerated progress on the rollout of high speed broadband in remote areas.

He continued: "The rural economy as a whole is facing a huge challenge with the potential loss of ATMs as a result of the recent robberies and the loss of the rural rate relief for bank machines.

"If the criminal gangs behind these ATM robberies are not stopped there is a real danger many rural communities will lose local access to cash. They are attacking local family-owned small businesses which are the backbone of the rural economy, providing an invaluable service to the local community."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

16 March 2020
Belfast City Marathon Postponed
Organisers of the Belfast City Marathon have took the decision to postpone the race and following half marathon fixture in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The marathon, originally due to take place on Sunday 03 May, will now be held on Sunday 20 September 2020.
19 March 2020
Woman Left Frightened After West Belfast Burglary
A woman has been left shaken after she was forced to the ground and threatened by three males who had forced entry to her home. Police have launched an investigation following the aggravated burglary in west Belfast on Wednesday evening, 18 March.
12 March 2020
Eastern Airways Saves Belfast-Southampton Route
Flights from Belfast City Airport to Southampton have been saved by Eastern Airways. The airline stepped in to fulfil the busy route after announcing on Monday that it was creating a six-times weekly Belfast to Teeside International Airport flight. The daily Southampton flights are now available for booking and will begin on Monday 23 March.
12 March 2020
Coronavirus: BCC To Hold Special Meeting
Belfast City councillors are to convene in a special meeting to assess the growing threat of coronavirus. It comes after it emerged that protection measures are to be stepped up in the Republic of Ireland, with all schools, colleges and childcare facilities to close. A total of 20 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Northern Ireland.
23 March 2020
Other News In Brief
UFU Calls For Safety As Schools Close The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) is urging parents/guardians to be vigilant as schools have now closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. With curious minds and adventurous spirits, children love to get out on the farm to explore, however farms are a place of work and are a dangerous environment for children.