John McCallister MLA, Independent Unionist for South Down has said the new councils need strategies for boosting trade in small towns such as Rathfriland.
Mr McCallister welcomed figures from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium which show shopper numbers in Northern Ireland were 4.2% higher than a year ago.
Mr McCallister said the figures will be strongly welcomed by local retailers in South Down. Mr. McCallister said: “Across the UK, out-of-town activity rose with a clear fall of shoppers on the high streets.
“Locally this reflects the challenges faced by small retailers in town and village centres across South Down.
“I will be making a strong case to the new Councils that they need clear strategies for boosting trade and re-generating town and village centres throughout South Down.
“This is particularly the case for smaller centres, such as Rathfriland, which can often miss out on the bulk of investment.
“The Small Business Rates Relief Scheme has been a great help to many retailers in South Down, but it is due to end in 2015.
“As a member of the Assembly’s Finance and Personnel Committee I am be fighting for the scheme to be extended or replaced.”