Nicholl: Still time for right decision to be made on Sunday trading hours

Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl has said plans to defer a final decision on a recent consultation into Sunday trading hours allows more time for the right decision to be made.

A vocal supporter of the plans that would allow larger retailers within the city centre confines open an additional 18 Sundays a year, Councillor Nicholl said she hoped the right decision would still be taken.

She added: “The recent consultation demonstrated the majority of people in Belfast back plans to see Sunday trading hours extending on an additional 18 Sundays a year, and while I’m disappointed the will of the people was not progressed at this morning’s Strategic Policy and Resource Committee, any deferral allows the doubters to be convinced.

“Everything points to this being a success for Belfast. As I outlined earlier this week the findings of the consultation show the public in Belfast backs the idea of the city being designated as a holiday resort – with nearly 2,500 people responding yes, and 80 per cent of those being from postcodes in the Belfast district, with only 594 from Belfast replying no.

“While I hope the deferral will eventually pave the way for this issue to be progressed, we cannot allow this to continue for long as Belfast’s economy will be the thing to suffer. This year between March and September there will be 21 cruise ships arriving on Sunday mornings – that’s 36,500 people, of whom many will want to shop, but they will only be met with closed signs and locked doors.

“This is our opportunity to show that Belfast is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city and a great weekend destination.”

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