THE large number of empty business premises in Ballymoney and Moyle continues to be a “shocking” blight on local towns and the government needs to take urgent action, North Antrim TUV Assemblyman Jim Allister has told the Times.
The number of vacant business premises in Ballymoney rose from 192 to 194 although the situation in Moyle reduced slightly from 109 to 104.
However in Ballymena there was a big jump from 445 vacant business premises to 490.
The latest statistics for the number of vacant non-domestic properties in Ballymoney, Moyle and Ballymena relate to September 30 this year and the figures they are being compared to data from September 2011.
Jim Allister obtained the figures through a question at the Stormont Assembly.
Looking at the whole of the North Antrim constituency he said: “This ten per cent rise in one year, from an already high base, is shocking and indicative of an economy in continuing decline.
“To find almost 500 business premises in this once-thriving hive of commercial activity lying empty speaks to both a deep recession and a failure by government to re-energise the economy. I believe high rates are a big contributor to this sorry state of affairs.
“Across the three council districts of North Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Moyle, the number of vacant business premises has risen from 746 to 788 with Ballymena by far the worst.
“In Ballymoney it is pretty much as we were with a rise from 192 to 194 and in Moyle there has been a marginal improvement with a fall in vacant properties from 109 to 104.
“There are 788 businesses that used to offer employment and today lie shuttered. While Stormont boasts of its rates relief policies, the harsh reality on our high streets is of an unequal struggle between rising overheads and falling profits.
“Painting up empty shop windows may make things look butter but it is an inadequate response by government to a deepening crisis,” said Mr Allister.