Larne Traders’ Forum meets Sinn Fein reps

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Larne town centre traders will need assurances that their voices will be heard on the new Mid and East Antrim council when it convenes in 2015.

Sinn Fein, who met Larne Traders’ Forum for the first time last week, have also indicated that local businesses are concerned about the effect on their trade of falling passenger numbers at the Port of Larne.

Coast Road councillor James McKeown and Oliver McMullan, MLA, sat down with traders for what Cllr McKeown described as a “very productive” meeting.

He added: “It covered a wide range of topics, such as how Larne is competing with other towns and shopping centres for trade; how we can make Larne more attractive; and what more can be done to make Larne the vibrant town centre it once was.”

Cllr McKeown said he believed that the town centre lacks promotion, and does not have the exposure that Ballymena and Coleraine enjoy.

Mr McMullan thanked the traders’ forum for inviting Sinn Fein to meet with them. Afterwards, he said: “It was quite clear that local traders needed reassurance that their voice would be heard when Larne becomes part of the new council grouping of Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne.

“The situation at P&O and the recent announcement of the very worrying drop in both passenger and freight numbers was talked about and it was agreed that Larne harbour needs to be protected and secured. Also high on the agenda was tourism and the need to improve our product to attract more visitors, who will hopefully stay and spend in the area,” said the MLA.