TUV Leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister has expressed dismay at the number of vacant business premises across North Antrim.
In reply to a recent Assembly Question to a Stormont Minister, Mr Allister established that there currently are 445 vacant business premises in Ballymena district, 192 in Ballymoney and 109 in Moyle, a total of 745.
Mr Allister said: “We all knew the recession was biting deep but when you see the cold figures that there are 750 business premises that once prospered, now empty, it underscores the depth of what we’re facing. With every business that closes the heartbeat of our town centres weakens. It also increases the burden on local ratepayers as the local tax take falls, yet services must be paid for.
“Taken with last week’s revelation that in five years Invest NI only bothered to bring two potential foreign investors to visit North Antrim, then it confirms to me how badly those in authority have taken their eye off the ball. A constituency which has 750 idle business premises is an area deserving priority attention, not neglect. We need a strategy for recovery in North Antrim and we need our fair share of investment, yet today we hear Invest NI is handing back £17.5m it says it couldn’t spend.
“The DUP/Sinn Fein regime at Stormont is failing this area and these figures are testimony to that sad reality.”