Yesterdays evening’s decision by Belfast City Council not to support the temporary closure of St Georges Market in June is welcome news for local traders. It was proposed to close the market for nearly a week to facilitate a business conference, with the traders being forced to move out.
Myself and party colleagues, Fearghal Mckinney MLA and Cllr Declan Boyle attended a meeting on Monday night where representatives of Visit Belfast, who plan to host a conference in June explained their plans to close the Market. There were over one hundred traders in attendance, and their feelings were clear, voting overwhelmingly against the proposal. Closure even for a few days during a busy summer month will have a big impact on these small businesses, as well as regular visitors to the market. Another major concern is the fear that this will set a precedent, and that traders can be forced out of the market again to make way for similar events.
The matter went to a vote of the Shadow City Council last night, and I was glad to learn that the Council supported a motion stating that the market wouldn’t be used for conferences during trading days. As someone who has supported the St Georges Market and the local traders for many years I welcome the decision to prioritise their needs.