Businesses again urged to set up new chamber

Businesses again urged to set up new chamber

6 December 2017

A FRESH call has been issued for the setting up of a new Chamber of Commerce in Downpatrick.

As Phoenix Natural Gas prepares to start work on a £6m investment in the town in the New Year to bring mains gas to home and business owners, Cllr Dermot Curran said it was essential traders have an organisation to represent their interests.

The five-year investment project spearheaded by Phoenix Natural Gas is part of a £60m programme the company is undertaking to extend its expansive network to towns across East Down. Phoenix aims to provide an estimated 5,000 properties in Downpatrick with access to natural gas and contractors are due on site in January.

The gas company has confirmed the project, which will involve major excavations and some temporary road and lane closures, will be carried out in stages in a bid to minimise traffic disruption and ensure traffic flows as much as possible.

While welcoming the investment, Cllr Curran said it is essential the business community has a representative body which can liaise with Phoenix, particularly as its contractor digs up the town centre to lay the new mains pipeline.

The gas company says it will take all reasonable steps to keep disruption to a minimum and do what it can to maintain access to homes, businesses, shops and schools, and Cllr Curran has welcomed this recognition. He also believes Phoenix would welcome the opportunity to liaise with a traders’ body as work in Downpatrick progresses.

“The provision of natural gas to Downpatrick to provide consumers with an added element of choice is very welcome but it is essential disruption is kept to an absolute minimum. The town already suffers from a chronic traffic congestion problem and there is the potential for this to be exacerbated when contractors start digging roads up,” he continued.

Cllr Curran hopes to ramp up his drive to persuade the business community to form a new Chamber of Commerce early in the New Year, arguing it’s essential such a body is in place to help spearhead the town’s economic regeneration.

“I hope traders will come forward and express an interest in creating such a body which has an important role to play in the future development of the town. It can also liaise with Phoenix officials during the company’s multi-million pound investment programme and raise issues on behalf of local businesses,” he continued.

“A body representing businesses can help promote the town and attract new investment, creating jobs and, most importantly, attract more shoppers, providing a boost for existing traders.”

Cllr Curran said a new chamber can articulate traders’ views on key issues, not least traffic congestion, arguing its essential the business community has a voice.

He added: “I am really keen to see such a body being formed and hope traders will come forward with their support so we can get this much-needed organisation up and running in the New Year.”