Petition goes online to ‘save’ hardware store

AN online petition has been started up in a bid to save Robert Martin’s hardware store which is closing after 71 years in business.

Following last week’s disclosure that the Banbridge landmark store is set to close due to crippling rates, a petition has been created on the petition online website.

Calling for as many names as possible to be added, the petition states, “After reading our local papers and reading that our local hardware store is being forced to close due to a large back-dated rates demand, it is time Banbridge people took a stand and said ‘enough is enough’.”

The rally call continues, “Are we just going to stand by and let Banbridge become a ghost town? (Are we going to permit) shops to close one by one?”

Visitors to the site are urged to phone local MLAs and Upper Bann MP David Simpson to voice their concerns and try to save the 14 jobs which will be lost due to the closure.

Robert Martin’s hardware store, one of the longest established independent store in Banbridge town centre, is set to close in the New Year with the businessman saying he has been “forced out” due to commercial rates totallying £120,000.

The store, which was opened by Mr Martin’s father in 1940, was refurbished in recent years and following a revaluation back-dated three years, the property’s rates soared to “exorbitant” levels.

Mr Martin had originally planned to downsize the business and move to a smaller store at Scarva Road, but that plan has been shelved due to it being commercially unviable.

Anyone who would like to add their name to the petition can do so by visiting www.petitiononline.co.uk/petition/save-robert-martins.