Drop in dole figures in Limavady

Eighty three people came off the dole in Limavady last month - but the town remains among the North’s top economic blackspots.

Figures released this week by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, show almost 1,473 people in the town are claiming unemployment related benefits.

In Limavady, there are 1,081 men compared to 392 woman claiming the dole.

The percentage of working age claiming the dole in Limavady stands at 6.7% - 9.6% for men and 3.6% for woman. It stands at 8.1% in Derry and 7.1% in Strabane.

In Derry a total of 5814 (8.1% of the working age population), were signing on in March 2012 - a drop of 183 on the previous month.

Last week it was revealed there were 300 business premises vacant in the borough.

Paul Beattie, Development Services Manager at Limavady Borough Council said the figures “paint a bleak picture, but readers have to realise that this is a global picture”.

“A glance at any other borough shows the same situation: Coleraine, 500; Derry, 817; Magherafelt, 407, Strabane, 346; Omagh, 600. While we’re not in the same league, it’s worth noting that there are over 4600 vacant properties in Belfast,” he told the Journal.

“It’s easy to look at these figures and, yet again, say that the Borough is ‘finished’. But we don’t celebrate the success stories of the 1350 VAT-registered businesses in the Borough who have kept going through economically tough times.

“Our claimant count has come down - slowly and by very small numbers - but yet the efforts of Roe Valley Enterprises, the Education Forum, the Jobs & Benefits office and others do not get the same recognition as figures such as this.”

Mr. Beattie added: “Without a doubt, the numbers of vacant properties represents both a drain on Council’s finance, and is bad for both the physical environment and the morale of ANY town or borough.

“Surely It’s time to look at innovative ways of using this space, especially in public retail areas.”