DROMORE Councillor Carol Black said Banbridge District Council was working hard for Dromore, where it could, but stressed much was in the hands of private property-owners.
Welcoming some recent works, responsible for “a vast improvement” in the town centre, she added, “Local Councillors do not have the power to tell anyone what to do with their private property . . . it is entirely up to the owner what he/she does with their property.”
The Ulster Unionist said any closure of town centre businesses was unfortunate, but the council was doing all it could to address the issue.
“As a Local Councillor,” she said, “I have been very actively working with the officers of the council, Town Centre Manager Mechelle Brown and Dromore Chamber of Commerce . . .
“ . . . Banbridge District Council is working extremely hard to repair and restore the Town Hall, which, I am glad to say, should be completed by 30 June, and we will be celebrating the opening with a community party.”
Councillor Black also challenged the anonymous critic to get involved with the Dromore Partnership or Dromore In Action and offer some ideas of their future vision for Dromore; alternatively, she said, they could contact her directly.
Dromore, she said, was by no means the only town in need of improvements and she stressed that local communities and local authorities both had a vital role in helping economies to thrive.
“Local Councils recognise the importance of boosting town centres and the significant social and economic benefits that a thriving local retail environment has for communities,” she said. “Last year, government commissioned a review, led by retail guru and ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas, into the future of the High Street.
“Of course we could invite Mary Portas to Dromore/Banbridge and see how she could help us. The Portas Review contained details of significant measures to tackle the decline of the UK High Streets and recommendations for improving town centres.”
Ms. Black added that only recently the council’s Head of Regeneration, Therese Rafferty, set up an Economic Steering Group to deal with the wider issues, such as banks lending to Small Businesses and questions for Invest NI as to land earmarked for potential business investment.