Decision is met with angry reaction from public

THE people of Banbridge have reacted angrily to the decision not to allow an Asda store in the town, saying it will do nothing but harm to the area.

The Leader Facebook was inundated with comments on the issue, with many people saying they will simply take their business to other towns with big supermarket chains where they can purchase cheaper items.

Just three letters of support were received by the Department, while 26 objection letters were lodged.

The decision, made by Environment Minister Alex Attwood last week in line with his Strategic Planning Division, has been slammed as a negative one for the town.

While Lynn Moorhead said she felt the people of Banbridge had “lost out again”, Stevie Baird said it was the “same old, same old”.

Lorraine Kelly said she felt Banbridge was turning into a ghost town while Gary McKinstry said people will inevitably “take their money” to nearby towns.

In response to Minister Attwood’s point about a proposed store potentially having an adverse impact on traffic and the surrounding area, Attracta Savage said she disagreed.

“I know a lot of the people in the estate where ASDA were planning to open and know that the majority of them were delighted to be having ASDA on their doorstep.”

Other people said they planned to write, and in some cases had already done so, to the minister - asking him to explain himself more fully and detailing their disappointment and anger at his decision.

Stephen Wilson appealed to local councillors to use their lobbying powers on the matter.

“Hopefully Attwood’s SDLP colleagues on Banbridge District Council will have a word in his ear,” said Stephen. “This proposed ASDA development is just what is needed in Banbridge. It would provide an alternative to Tesco and as it was not exactly out of town it would mean a lot more people would visit the town centre. This shopping development would do no harm whatsoever to the town of Banbridge. This was one store I was looking forward to having in Banbridge.

Ally Kerr, who said he is a manager in the town centre, said he supported the Asda application for a number of reasons.

“It would create hundreds of jobs for local people which everyone needs and surely shop owners should understand it would create more footfall/customers for local traders as well instead of closing shops.

“As we can see the public are starting to leave Banbridge to shop elsewhere.”

Jonny McAlister called for people to take a step back and think about the realities of another new supermarket in the area.

“Who would’ve thought Asda would be the saviour of Banbridge town?! Some people need to have a proper think about it and stop being blinded by the possibility of getting your shopping for a little less money. The only thing Asda would bring is competition for Tesco, and even less trade for the local small shop owners...that so many people pretend to care about.”