Jobs needed to boost economy of small towns

10 09 2013

Following the closure of a number of family run businesses in the town, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has called for Government policy to place greater emphasis on jobs and business growth in order to support the economies of small towns.

Councillor Cunningham, who is chair of the Revitalise Ballycastle programme which focuses on the regeneration of the historic streetscape of Castle Street and Clare Street, warned that thriving town centres have to be places in which people work.

If small towns continue to hollow out, they will not be able to provide the environment to attract and retain the businesses that will support the economy in the future business growth

To date much of government policy has been about treating the symptom of moribund town centres, and not the cause, which is the lack of workers who are likely to spend their money locally.

 ‘Thriving town centres have to be places in which people can work, as well as live, play and shop – and that means thinking more broadly about the location of  jobs and support for business  growth. ‘

Cunningham welcomes news of Revitalise funding

11 06 2013

Castle St 1959

Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed news that Moyle Council has been successful in their application for £250k regeneration funding from the Department of Social Development in order to Revitalise Ballycastle Town Centre.

Councillor Donal Cunningham Chair of the ‘Revitalise Ballycastle’ steering group said

“The scheme will focus on the historic streetscape of Castle Street and Clare Street, and will give us the opportunity to reverse the decline of recent years, and give the town and its community much needed social and economic benefits.”

“It is hoped that the improved streetscape will contribute to an improvement in the local economy as well as promoting Ballycastle as an attractive place to visit. Our objective is to help increase retail trade and improve the physical townscape


Upgrade of Clare Street lighting welcomed

19 01 2013

Clare Street

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed Roads Service commitment to upgrade street lighting on Clare Street.

 Councillor Cunningham said “I had raised the issue with Roads Service at the Council meeting of 12th November, they have now confirmed in writing that following a survey at the location an upgrade of the street lighting has been agreed.  I am particularly pleased at this news as Clare Street and Castle Street are the two designated areas which we hope to attract regeneration funding for under the Town Centre Revitalise scheme.”

 “Smart attractive streets improve the appearance of town centres. The streetscape of Ballycastle is vitally important and the new street lighting is one of a number of measures required to make our streets more attractive and welcoming.”

Regeneration of “Tourist Town Centres” needs to be taken seriously

7 01 2013

old diamond

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has called for greater urgency to be shown by the Government and the Assembly Executive to help rescue ailing town centres in “tourist towns”.

Calling for an honest assessment Councillor Cunningham said “Small independent traders in towns like Ballycastle are buckling under the weight and pressures of soaring operational costs and ever increasing regulation and bureaucracy “

“If we are to prevent our town centres becoming ghost towns, we all need to work together to provide support; central Government and the Assembly Executive have fallen way short off the mark.”

“The state of the economy poses its own challenges to the independent retail sector as does the internet and the loss of critical footfall. Work is needed on areas such as business rents, rates, red tape, planning and even taxation”

“Solutions to these issues won’t be found without honest engagement across every level of government. Properly empowered, Local Government is best placed to take the lead on some of these issues, our knowledge of and commitment to the local community should allow us to provide a creative vision to providing local solutions which match the expectation of the community and the visitors we hope to attract”

Regenerate Ballycastle Town Centre

26 12 2012


The impending closure of a number of family run shops has prompted Councillor Dónal Cunningham to call for more effort to be made in order to champion Ballycastle town centre

The potential loss of a number of businesses following so soon after the decision by First Trust bank to leave Ballycastle is a major setback.

Councillor Cunningham said “In the current economic climate Moyle Council, Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce and all other interested community groups need to be more proactive in relation to developing and protecting the local economy”.

Councillor Cunningham proposed that all interested groups get together to work collaboratively and share expertise and knowledge.

 “Town centre regeneration is complex and needs to deal with interrelated and multi-dimensional issues that are driven by the wider economic and other factors associated with the town. An integrated/ holistic approach to town centre regeneration is required”

 Councillor Cunningham continued “Successful town centre regeneration requires a clear vision, strategy and action plan to provide a strategic fit for project interventions”

He said we urgently need to see an increase of footfall on our streets.

“The town centre needs to be brought back to life; we need community involvement and the community use of empty shops to keep our streets dynamic and vibrant.”

Community hears “Revitalise Ballycastle” plans

3 12 2012

Ballycastle Garden Centre 

A good turnout of owners and those who rent business premises in Ballycastle attended a meeting held in Sheskburn Community Centre, to hear proposed plans to deal with the regeneration of the town centre, and in particular the conservation areas of Castle Street and Clare Street.

Councillor Donal Cunningham Chair of the ‘Revitalise Ballycastle’ steering group, welcomed those present before introducing Mr William Cameron from the Department for Social Development, who are likely to be the project’s main funders.

Mr Cameron commented on Ballycastle and it’s rich diversity of shop fronts and its unrivalled streetscape. He explained that if the project was successful it would hope to offer grants to improve certain historic buildings within the designated area whose scale, design materials and detailing would enhance the historical character of the buildings and contribute to an improvement in the local economy as well as remaining an  attractive place to visit.

Those who own or rent business premises in the designated area were encouraged to express an interest in applying for any future funding should it become available.

Revitalise Ballycastle Town Centre

24 09 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed Moyle Council’s decision to work with the Department of Social Development in order to revitalise Ballycastle Town Centre.

Councillor Cunningham commented “Ballycastle has a wonderful historic streetscape but unless immediate action is taken to reverse the decline of recent years, the town and its community will lose the much needed social and economic benefits that a busy vibrant town centre has been able to provide in previous decades.”

“I am particularly keen to see the restoration of Castle Street back to the bustling and active street that we were once so used to. But for this to happen it is local people who must take control, we need input from local businesses and he local community so that a vision is developed for the future of our town and we are able to put their energy and enthusiasm into making that vision a reality.”

The Revitalise initiative aims to improve the appearance of shop fronts, improve sites and market the town centre.  The objective is to help increase retail trade and improve the physical townscape.

Cunningham welcomes regeneration plans for Ballycastle

30 07 2012



SDLP Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the efforts aimed at boosting the flagging vitality of the towns and villages of Moyle and has called for greater community involvement in regeneration measures.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with representatives from the Departments of Social Development (Urban regeneration) and DOE Planners, he said:

“We need to return Ballycastle Town Centre to a position where it plays a key role in the economic and social fabric of the community acting as both a centre of employment and services as well as a focus for civic activity.

“We need to support our local businesses through these challenging economic times and to address the issue of empty shops and units.

“Local government and departments cannot act alone, we need to involve and support community and business leaders to regenerate and grow the town. We need a strong community focus, working on making the town more vibrant, and developing and improving the aesthetics of the town.

 “Ballycastle has a huge amount to offer, visitors are impressed by our beautiful streetscape, unfortunately the economic climate has particularly hit our retail trade and many shops are now unoccupied. It is important that we work to strengthen our competitiveness and develop connected, cohesive and engaged communities – communities that can identify their own needs and work with government and others in meeting those needs.”

Cunningham supports “Tidy our Town” day

3 05 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Dónal Cunningham has commended the efforts of two local men who are organising a “Tidy our Town” day.
“Having identified the need to maintain the attractiveness of the Ballycastle streetscape, the initiative aims to enhance the appearance of Castle Street, and to give some of the empty properties a facelift. This is the kind of inspired community spirit which we need, and will make Ballycastle a more attractive place for local residents and for tourists visiting the area, it has the potential to provide support for existing business and to attract new ones.”
“The project really wants to make some things happen – they don’t want to wait, but want to act and to help encourage change.”