Town centres risk becoming ghost towns without intervention

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The suspension of the ‘Back in Business’ scheme is a direct result of the political failure at Stormont and will leave town centres like ghost towns, SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly has claimed.

The Back in Business Scheme is a Department of Finance project which incentivises business owners to consider vacant retail premises by reducing rates by 50% for 12 months.

She said: “The ghost town centre is far too regular an appearance in many of our communities. Towns which have not recovered from the economic downturn and which have seen local businesses forced to the wall are lying derelict. It’s not good for our local economy and it’s not good for morale in the community.

“The Back in Business support scheme was designed to encourage new businesses to take up some of the prime retail space that might otherwise have been out of their price bracket. It should have helped heal the scars of the downturn.

“This is a further victim of the failure to restore power sharing. Our Health Service, our schools and now businesses are paying the price for a failure of politics. This can’t continue.”