Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Roadworks and parking giving Lurgan locals a headache

Parking and pedestrianisation - these were the main issues highlighted by people in Lurgan during the second Belfast Telegraph Roadshow.

As the Tell Us About It campaign — the most interactive community initiative ever staged across Northern Ireland — hit the streets of the Co Armagh town, senior reporters Victoria O'Hara and Emily Moulton spent the day listening to the views and concerns of the people of Lurgan.

Throughout the afternoon we spoke to dozens of residents, traders and shoppers who gave a wide spectrum of opinions on what really mattered to them.

Among the many items discussed were anti-social behaviour, unemployment, dog fouling and dissident activity.

But the hot topic for the day was the multi-million pound Public Realm Works.

In 2009 the then Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie announced that her department would inject £2.7 million to create a more pedestrian-friendly town centre. It was envisaged this major facelift would reinvigorate the commercial heart of Lurgan.

But after speaking to the people on the streets yesterday, instead of breathing life into the town, the regeneration project threatens to suck the life out of it

Local trader Valarie Mahaffey, who has run Juellf on Market Street for more than two decades, said the roadworks and subsequent changes to street parking has caused havoc for shop owners.

“One of the biggest problems facing traders in Lurgan is out-of-town shopping centres,” she said.

“We unfortunately have Rushmere shopping centre a few miles one way and a big shopping centre in Portadown all with free car parking.”

Emma O'Hagan (32), who works in a local bank, said the problem was also affecting the most vulnerable in Lurgan.

“Disabled customers say how difficult it is to get parked,” she said. “They have to park miles away and then struggle to get to the bank or wherever they need to go within an hour.”

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