Mayor disappointed with party leaders' `poor
response' to John Lewis
Mayor of Lisburn has expressed his disappointment over the lack
of support' from party leaders for the proposed John Lewis
development at Sprucefield.
Lisburn City Council wrote to each of the
political parties represented in the Northern Ireland Assembly
seeking support for John Lewis nearly six weeks ago, but to date
only two leaders - Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein and Jim Allister of
the TUV - have responded.
Mayor Ronnie Crawford said: "It is most
disappointing, though frankly not surprising, that the other
parties have failed to show any indication of their support and
the voters of Lisburn will note this carefully."
Jim Allister, leader of the Traditional
Unionist Voice, told the council he was happy to confirm his
strong support for this project and to confirm that he has
written accordingly to the planning authorities.
"I have no doubt that this development would
not only greatly enhance the economic appeal and performance of
Lisburn but would be a great boost for all of Northern Ireland.
My only regret is that such delay has attended the realisation
of this scheme" he said.
And Mr Adams said he had sent a letter to the
Minister of the Environment expressing support for the proposed
development at Sprucefield Park and the opportunity for a John
Lewis department store.
Sprucefield plans 'not affected' by
announcement of Dublin store
Mayor Councillor Ronnie Crawford says he has been assured last
week's announcement that John Lewis is to open a store in the
heart of Dublin has not affected the company's plans to be
anchor tenant at Westfield's proposed Sprucefield development.
However, Mr. Crawford also made it clear he
believed the unveiling of the department store's plan for a 50
million Euro outlet in O'Connell Street would prove 'a test of
the seriousness' with which Northern Ireland's politicians treat
the province's economy.
He said an urgent decision was required from
planners on the revised Sprucefield Park proposals and claimed
the opening of a John Lewis store in Dublin before one at
Sprucefield would be 'a terrible indictment' of Northern
Ireland's planning process given the first application was
lodged four years ago.
The Mayor also warned there was 'still the
possibility' Northern Ireland could lose 'not only the
initiative but potentially 1,000 much-needed jobs.
If this happened, he added, local politicians
would carry the responsibility.
"The John Lewis name is a huge draw for
shoppers. Rather than shoppers staying in Northern Ireland they
will simply go in coach-loads to Dublin if John Lewis goes there
and the Lisburn store is not approved,"
he said. in current economic conditions, and
with future economic predictions, it is vital to ensure that
Northern Ireland plc provides a complete choice of shopping for
consumers. The Sprucefield development would also bring many
benefits to the local economy."
Mr. Crawford urged everyone who wanted to see
John Lewis open a store at Sprucefield to sign the City
Council's petition supporting the Westfield development.
The Dublin store will be John Lewis's first
outside the United Kingdom.
The company has agreed to take the anchor
unit in 'Dublin Centre, a 1.2 billion euro retail complex by
developer Chartered Lands expected to open in 2013.
The store will cover an area of 250,000
square feet spread over five floors and is predicted to bring
800 jobs to the Republic's capital.