Angry response to NIIRTA legal bid

THE news that a legal challenge has been launched against the decision to approve a Tesco store at Brigewater Park has been met with a storm of anger from people across the district.

The Leader revealed last week that the Northern Ireland Independent Trade and Retail Association (NIIRTA) are considering a judicial review on the decision made by the former Environment Minister Edwin Poots.

Campbell Stafford Solicitors, acting on behalf of NIIRTA, sent a letter to the Environment Department claiming the decision to approve the development was “legally irrational”.

The letter, dated May 27, went on to argue that the decision had been taken without proper or adequate consultation with the relevant parties.

But, taking to the Leader Facebook page, many readers argued against NIIRTA’s move, claiming it would cause Banbridge to lose out on the economic benefits that a Tesco Extra store could bring.

One Dromore man said the move could damage trade at the Outlet. “It’s the right decision if NIIRTA is happy for the millions spent developing The Outlet site to be flushed down the pan.

“The Outlet has fantastic potential, but it needs a bigger draw than it currently has and the Tesco Extra store can only provide that. Not to mention much-needed construction industry jobs and long term store employment!”

The local man went on to cite examples of other areas where similar developments have worked alongside town centre trading. “Is Lisburn city centre dead with all the stores at Sprucefield?”

Other people focused on the estimated job provision from the development. “Is NIIRTA going to pay the wages of people who can’t get jobs in the town?” asked another local man. “The new Tesco store may damage a few businesses but it will bring more benefits overall.”

The reader also pointed out the free parking opportunity at the Outlet compared with time-limited parking in the town centre.

Another man said NIIRTA was not representing the views of most people in the area. “As far as I can see NIIRTA is not speaking for the vast majority of the people of Banbridge.”

Last week local councillor Seamus Doyle said the news would not be popular. “The community do not want this challenge and the delay that it will cause; it’s not going to succees and NIIRTA should take their problems somewhere else.”