‘DIRE STRAITS’ TALKS TABLED

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Limavady councillors are to hold an “urgent” meeting to discuss the “dire straits” facing businesses throughout the borough.

With around half a dozen businesses closing in the borough in the last month councillors agree action is “absolutely essential”.

Agreeing on the move when they met on Tuesday evening, councillors are to hold a workshop in coming weeks from which they can draw up a plan to be taken to Stormont by a delegation from Council.

Sinn Fein Councillor Brenda Chivers said: “The whole borough is in dire straits and this is very urgent. We have a responsibility to people out there in the borough to help.”

Colr. Chivers said decentralisation of government departments from in and around Belfast to the North West should be lobbied for.

“There has been an increase in the number of businesses forced to close due to the economic downturn and it is essential that as a Council we provide as much support as possible.

“I proposed at the Council meeting on Tuesday to bring together a forum to deal with the issue so we can explore ways of ensuring all small businesses can be supported. It is important that all parties within the Council participate and that the local businesses and Chamber of Commerce are involved. The current economic climate looks set to continue so it is important we draw up a strategy that helps protect the small businesses in this area.”

She added: “This is a crisis and it is affecting people’s health. I understand it is worldwide but we, as counillors, must do everything we can.”

SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle said: “The days of the big business such as Seagate and Desmonds are long past and we need to work on our core busineses within the borough, which are the one, two, three, four, five-man businesses. Yes, we are in a crisis situation but that has been there for the last three to four years, but what we can do is lobby central government, look again at our own rates and appeal to property owners to review their rental incomes for the small businesses.”

TUV Colr. Boyd Douglas said while council officers are working hard, until the North West area gets funding targeted into the area “we are really up against it”.