Missed opportunity for Belfast over liberalising Sunday opening hours, says Nicholl

Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl has said it is a missed opportunity for Belfast after Councillors rejected her proposal to liberalise Sunday opening hours in the city.

Councillor Nicholl proposed reversing the decision taken at a Council Committee meeting last month to reject major retailers being able to extend opening hours on up to 18 Sundays in any calendar year, excluding Easter Sunday, between March and September. However, at Belfast City Council’s meeting tonight, the majority of Councillors voted against the idea despite the majority of residents surveyed saying they did want this change.

“Many Sunday mornings I have come across tourists walking around Belfast city centre, confused as to why everywhere except St George’s Market is closed. Councillors rejecting the chance to liberalise the Sunday opening hours for 18 days a year is a missed opportunity and it was disappointing to see that repeated tonight,” said Councillor Nicholl.

“The idea would not only help regenerate the city centre and be important for the local economy but also create the positive, cosmopolitan image we want to project for Belfast. Everything points to it being a success for the city, including having a majority of citizens back a consultation into it.

“I appreciate and understand the argument on workers’ rights but they are well-regulated under the 1997 order, so 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.

“This is a missed opportunity for Belfast but it is not one Alliance will give up on.”

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