Join chamber, traders urged

HELPING to improve business in Lurgan is not a waste of time, the chair of the town’s Chamber of Commerce has said.

Charles Gardiner made the remarks during Monday night’s Chamber meeting.

Around 30 traders turned up for the meeting, an attendance which was described as “encouraging”.

“This shows that the business community in Lurgan has a strong voice,” said Mr Gardiner.

On urging traders to get involved with the chamber, he said: “The more of us there are, the better the representation we can give to the town.”

A report was then given on what had been happening around the town during the summer.

Mr Gardiner pointed out that the Meanwhile Space scheme had been launched.

He said there had been a slow start, but a number of people have applied for properties in the town.

Following the completion of the first phase of the Public Realm Works, Mr Gardiner praised the company who carried out the work.

He said it had passed by with very few hitches and described it as “well-planned”.

Simon Dowey told the meeting that he had met with regional development minister Danny Kennedy on a number of occasions.

As well as raising the issue of Millennium Way, Mr Dowey highlighted the ongoing problems surrounding the railway gates.

He said: “We suggested that signals should be installed just outside Lurgan. That would reduce waiting times considerably.

“The minister assured me he has not forgotten about the issue, but is waiting on a response from Translink.”

Mr Gardiner also revealed that a delegation had met with finance minister Sammy Wilson to discuss the rate relief scheme.

“We would like to see a general expansion of the scheme to include more premises,” said Mr Gardiner.

“Again, we are being seen by Stormont as being active and fairly strong.”

Stephen Greene, of Lurgan Forward, said the organisation is involved in some “very exciting work”.

“We have been meeting weekly to finalise a vision for Lurgan Forward, and we are working on how to promote that vision.

“The vision is to put a smile on Lurgan, to be positive and realise that there’s good stuff going on in the town.”

Mr Gardiner spoke about the campaign against the proposed bag tax, which Stormont could soon introduce.

He described the legislation as “ill-thought out” and said many people in the town had signed a petition opposing it.

“We have made representations to our six MLAs, and we have been pleased with the response.

“Representations have also been made to Stormont. This shows the influence the business community can have when we get involved with the Chamber.

“It is up to traders to participate for their own good and their long-term future,” he added.