TUV MLA Jim Allister has established through Assembly Questions that, sadly, the number of vacant business premises across North Antrim continues to rise. The trend has been upwards now for 4 years, indicating the depth of the recession.
Across North Antrim there were 816 vacant business premises at 31 October 2013, with 495 in Ballymena, 212 in Ballymoney and 109 in Moyle. This compares with a total of 725 in 2010, 746 in 2011, and 788 last year, 2012. Additionally, there are a total of 746 non-domestic premises with rates exemptions, while this includes churches and halls it also includes a large number of charity shops, as reflected on our high streets.
Commenting Jim Allister said, “Once more these are disappointing and depressing figures, reflecting the huge economic draught that has hit right across the constituency. Our high streets were once bustling hubs of commerce, now, sadly, the prevalence of empty shops is too often the dominant feature. Stormont boasts of its rates assistance packages for businesses, but clearly they are not working in arresting our high street decline. Rates are pricing many out of business. The Chancellor has announced fresh support for business, but will Stormont apply it here, or choose to spend, even waste it, on other pet projects?