City traders 'must work together'
Published 15/01/2013 | 17:30
Traders must set aside recriminations and work together to bring business back to Belfast, Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson has said at a crisis meeting.
The emergency talks involving retailers, representatives of the hospitality industry and traders from all parts of the city were held to discuss the impact of the flag protests.
The meeting comes after the council decided last Friday to engage with businesspeople to find ways to improve the city's battered image.
"We were delighted that all sectors of business were represented, not just from the city centre but also from parts of the city that have been worst-hit by the recent trouble," said Mr Robinson.
"It was an opportunity for those present to vent not only their frustrations and fears but perhaps more importantly come up with ideas and initiatives to deal with the problem.
"The council is giving this matter some urgency and will consider all the issues that were discussed and come up with a joint plan of action to encourage people who work in the city centre to stay beyond work time, and for others to come into the city and support our bars, restaurants and shops, while also supporting the retailers in their own localities.
"Now is not the time for recriminations and blame, it is the time to work together to ensure that the great work that we have all contributed to during the past few years to promote Belfast in a positive way is not lost."
The mayor said he will present business owners with an action plan as soon as possible.
"I am confident that we can make a real difference in ensuring that the good image of Belfast as a great place to shop and socialise is not only restored but enhanced," he added.