The chair of Armagh City Centre Management will form part of a delegation for a ministerial meeting when a range of concerns impacting on local traders will be held.
Art O’Hagan – speaking after the autumn meeting of CCM last Tuesday – thanked local traders for their “valuable contribution to the city centre”.
And he advised that, “whilst difficult times lie ahead for business and households”, he hoped a “partnership approach would prevail and CCM would continue to volunteer their time to offer support”.
Among the issues raised at the meeting were soaring energy costs, the ongoing strike at ABC Council and traffic congestion due to the lack of rail or proper roads infrastructure.
CCM stressed the need for a ‘contingency plan’ for the city centre in light of the ongoing industrial action and it was agreed continued assessment – to ensure streets meet public health requirements – is “a necessity”.
Gavin Emerson, Infrastructure Chair, also highlighted the “urgent need for the east link road and establishment of the railway link for both easing city traffic flow and to support daily commuters”.
According to a CCM spokesperson: “Concern was voiced too at the escalating cost of energy that we as businesses are facing and the very serious repercussions as a result. It was asked if any central government support would be forthcoming and CCM were advised this would be brought to local council and appropriate ministers at the earliest convenience.”
The meeting saw numerous topics discussed between local business and elected representatives – and there were some positive developments too to give hope in the current climate.
There are a number of upcoming ABC Council-led events planned for the city centre including the very popular Blues Fest and Georgian Day; a number of stalls are still available for city centre businesses and interested parties should get in touch to enquire.
A very active Shop Local Campaign from CCM has to date supported over 80 city centre businesses and this free service has welcomed a further 10 new businesses to Armagh since June 2022.
Maria Joyce, Retail Chair, said it was “very positive” and urged businesses to get in touch for assistance with their social media platforms.
An update report on the successful townscape heritage initiative – bringing back historic properties into productive use – was also discussed and the positive outcomes noted.
Chair Art O’Hagan updated the committee on the “very positive feedback from the local community with regard to CCM’s Bandstand Initiative in Market Street”.
He said: “This ran for four weeks and enhanced city centre footfall as well as showcasing local musical talent, particularly from the younger musicians.”
Mr O’Hagan informed those present that he would be part of a delegation meeting Ministerial representatives this week and “many concerns would be raised” at that time.