Traders fear for the future

The latest proposals for the redevelopment of Belfast city centre have clouded the future of Smithfield market traders.

During Tuesday’s announcement of the plan, NIO Minister John Spellar promised that 4,000 new jobs would be created in total.

However, last night traders operating from the Smithfield market told the Andersonstown News that they are unsure of what the future holds for them and fear that the plans could be the final nail in the coffin for the famous old market.

Theresa Cullen, a seamstress at The Sewing Box, stressed a fear shared by others who spoke to us. “Where will we be? Will there be a place for us in this development? They might call a meeting and say that we could get a place in here [the proposed development] at a reasonable rate but we don’t know anything yet.

“I have been here 24 years and I would like to find out where we stand. These are all wee family businesses. If they put us out that’s our children’s future they are doing away with.”

If they are included in the scheme, previous experiences have given Theresa cause for concern about how the building would affect their businesses.
“When they redeveloped CastleCourt, they put a 10-foot fence right around the whole building site which separated us from the rest of the town. We couldn’t pay the rent then. We would be worried if that were to happen again.”

Charlie Brown, who sells boxing equipment in Smithfield, is worried about the downward trend of business experienced at the current site and hopes that the new proposals will have a rejuvenating effect.

“I wouldn’t mind so long as we are relocated in the city centre. This is a dying market. They don’t advertise this market the same way they have advertised St George’s Market. I think that they are looking rid of us.

“If you look around the market now you see how many empty shops are in it. I don’t mind if they relocate us so long as it is in the centre of town. What I’m doing is cross-community, so if we were moved to, say, the Falls Road then I would lose the Shankill people.”

Mary Byrne of Smithfield Buy & Sell Centre said she was being kept in the dark as to what’s going to happen in the future for the traders.

“Are there proposals for traders to remain at the site? A lot of traders are filtering out one by one and if it keeps on like this none of us will be here much longer. One of the traders of 30 years closed their business only a couple of weeks ago. I’m not against modernisation as long as Smithfield is included.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Social Development was unable to fully alleviate the fears of the traders.

“It is too early to say what will happen to Smithfield Market as the Department has just launched public consultation on a proposed master plan for the future development of the north west quadrant of Belfast’s city centre.
“One suggestion in the consultants’ report is that Smithfield might be absorbed into any future development in the area.

“Before any final decision would be made the Department will consider responses to the current consultation and would have detailed discussions with Belfast City Council, which owns Smithfield Market.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?