Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has pledged to help Roe Valley businesses struggling against rates in a deep recession.

Speaking exclusively to the ‘Journal’ this week during a visit to Limavady he said he wanted to see how schemes designed to assist small businesses with rates relief were working in towns, such as Limavady.

“I wanted to talk to people here in Limavady and listen to retailers and the problems they are facing,” he said. “I’ve been asked about extending the threshold for the rates relief scheme and I’ve made a commitment to do that. There is a fairly positive attitude from traders and those who represent them here and I’ve been in a number of shops in Limavady where clearly retailers have decided to up their game.

“The one thing that strikes me about Limavady is these people are not lying down. They want help and I want to give them whatever help I can, but I want to see people helping themselves too.”

The minister said he was aware of the concern surrounding the proposed closure of Magilligan Prison but, at the end of the day, said it was up to the Justice Minister.

“I know there have been a number of economic body blows to the area and obviously that will have to be a consideration but, ultimately, it is something to be brought to the Executive by the Justice Minister,” he said.

Stephen Ross, who runs health store, Natural Remedies off Main Street, Limavady, said assistance with rates and issues such as car parking would help. However, he believes the big problem facing retailers everywhere is the lack of expendable cash.

“It’s taking so much more now for people to live, and while there are measures than can help that extra money just isn’t there,” he said.

Limavady businessman, Charlie Mullin also met the minister who toured his site on Catherine Street.

“The Minister was very impressed by the size of the town centre site and, in particular, the opportunity it presents to Limavady in terms of job creation and rejuvenation of the town centre,” he said.

“The development of this site to its full potential will create a minimum of 200 full time jobs plus construction jobs. There would also be a substantial increase to the public purse by the way of additional rates. My request is for everyone to work together and help to avail of the great opportunity that exists for Limavady and its people by way of much needed jobs and investment.”

(See further coverage on page 5)