Majority of people back extending Sunday opening hours, says Nicholl

Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl has said the findings of a consultation into Sunday trading hours show the majority of people in Belfast back extending them.

Councillor Nicholl was speaking ahead of a meeting of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Friday at which the results of a public consultation into whether the city should designate as a holiday resort will be discussed.

It would mean major retailers would be able to extend their opening hours on up to 18 Sundays in any calendar year, excluding Easter Sunday, between March and September.

“The findings of the report show clearly the public in Belfast back the idea of the city being designated as a holiday resort – nearly 2,500 people responded yes, with 80 per cent of those being from postcodes in the Belfast district, with only 594 from Belfast replying no,” she said.

“We cannot allow the opportunity to modernise Belfast city centre to pass. To do so would cost jobs, make regeneration more difficult and fail to open the city up to outside investment opportunities. We need an outcome which delivers for all the people of Belfast.

“I appreciate for some there are understandable concerns about workers’ rights, however, under the 1997 Order no shop worker will be compelled to work on a Sunday, as well as providing the right not to suffer any other detriment for refusing Sunday work. Additionally, if Belfast does become designated as a holiday resort this will be continuously monitored and evaluated by the Council and subject to a full review at the end of the resort period.

“Liberalising Sunday trading hours will create more choice for visitors and tourists in the summer months, giving us a real opportunity to promote a positive cosmopolitan image of our city – we need to do everything we can to sell Belfast as the great destination it is.”

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