Proposed town centre task force a step closer

Councillor Mark Baxter, Carla Lockhart MLA and Councillor Terry McWilliams.
Councillor Mark Baxter, Carla Lockhart MLA and Councillor Terry McWilliams.

A proposed task force to encourage town centre regeneration has taken a step forward.

A Notice of Motion is to be placed before the local council calling for the setting up of the body.

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart recently called for a Town Centre Task Force aimed at regenerating and marketing our town centers.

Ms Lockhart said she is delighted her Council colleagues will be moving a Notice of Motion to propose the setting up of such a Task Force.

DUP councillors Mark Baxter and Terry McWilliams are bringing the matter before the Council in a bid to have the local authority take a lead on the project and commence engagement with all the relevant authorities.

Ms Lockhart said: “I hear from retailers and see for myself on an ongoing basis that footfall is reducing and shops are closing.

“This is evident in Lurgan, Banbridge and Portadown where in recent months we have seen large national chains pull out of the town centres. We need to engage with business, local government and rate payers to develop a proper strategy to deal with this problem.

“A task force with all relevant authorities ie Department of Communities, Infrastructure, Finance and the Economy alongside Chambers of Trade and political representatives I believe would be a force for good. It would bring some new thinking to the table.”

Councillor Baxter and McWilliams went on to say: “We are fortunate across our Council area to have a town centre mix of locally and nationally owned shops. We want to see this continue to flourish and have a long term future proof plan which focuses on increasing footfall, marketing and attracting investors.

“Our aim with this... is for Council to put the wheels in motion and become the lead partner in creating a focused task force similar to that in other council areas. The DUP collectively... are focused on getting a solution.”