City councillors deferred a decision to designate Belfast as a ‘holiday resort’, which would allow shops to open for longer on Sundays, and accepted a proposal by Usdaw and Retail NI for a ‘weekend summit’, which would allow all stakeholders to sit down and explore all options to deliver a vibrant and prosperous weekend economy for Belfast. However, the city council’s announcement falls far short of this proposal.
Mike Aylward – Usdaw Divisional Officer says:
“We welcomed the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee accepting that the best way forward is to hold a ‘weekend summit’. It was initially proposed by Retail NI and strongly supported by Usdaw. The arrangements the city council have made go nowhere near what is required and it is very disappointing that they have taken this approach. We would have to question whether they are taking it seriously.
“Organisations that need to participate in the summit have been given only six-days notice of the meeting. Only two hours have been allocated for the summit, we cannot possibly properly consider all options that might contribute to boosting the weekend economy of Belfast such a short time. The meeting agenda appears to have been narrowed to matters strictly relating to the specific proposal the designate Belfast as a ‘holiday resort’, rather than the underlying issue of developing Belfast’s weekend economy.
“Usdaw remains committed to working openly with all parties as part of this process, however we do believe that this meeting does not achieve the aims of the ‘weekend summit’ agreed by city councillors.
“We have called for Thursday’s gathering to be used as a preliminary meeting ahead of a full weekend summit. This would enable all stakeholders to come to the table fully prepared and allow for real and meaningful discussions that would hopefully lead to progress on this issue and deliver the economic benefits being sought for Belfast.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion