City centre ‘under threat’
LONDONDERRY’S Chamber of Commerce chief has claimed the local city centre is “under threat” whilst welcoming a new intiative that has seen over one thousand small businesses in the city benefit from rates discounts averaging between £300 and £430 per year.
A total of 1,242 small firms have benefited from a new Small Business Rates Relief Scheme in Londonderry to date, according to Finance Minister Sammy Wilson.
But Sinead McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce said a lot work still needs to be done.
“The challenge of protecting and supporting the vitality and viability of our high streets is immense,” she said. “Town and city centres throughout Northern Ireland are under threat and any interventions made by the NI Executive to help sustain and support our business community are to be welcomed.”
She added: “We have lobbied government to look for innovative solutions to help encourage empty shops to become occupied once more and the Empty Premises Relief scheme which came into effect on April 1 is certainly a very positive step in the right direction.
“Derry~Londonderry is looking forward to being the first UK City of Culture in 2013 and it is all the more important that our city centre and surrounding areas are lively, dynamic, exciting and busy places.
“The Londonderry Chamber will continue to work with all of our members, business owners, stakeholders and government agencies in an effort to seize the opportunity before us and to help support and deliver real solutions that will further the regeneration of our historic centre.”
Last week the Sentinel reported how 1,242 local businesses had benefited from the rates relief whilst at the same time, of 3,047 rates assessments raised in respect of non-domestic properties in Londonderry in April 2011, some or all of the debt was still outstanding for 469 properties and no payments have been received in respect of 210 of these.
Only in Belfast, Newry and Mourne and Lisburn did more businesses take advantage of the rates discount. In Limavady (415) and Strabane (525) smaller numbers also availed of the scheme. Across Northern Ireland the total number of firms to get relief was 23,728.
Owners of empty properties were sent details of the Empty Premises Relief and application forms by LPS last week. Application forms are available by calling the LPS helpline on 0300 200 7801 or can be downloaded from the NI Business Info website: http://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/emptypremises
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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