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Ballymena newsagent raps power firm NIE Networks after 'surprise' work badly hits trade

By Nevin Farrell

Published 23/11/2016

Eugene Diamond outside his newspaper shop on Broughshane Street in Ballymena
Eugene Diamond outside his newspaper shop on Broughshane Street in Ballymena

An angry Ballymena businessman has slammed electricity chiefs after his shop was surrounded by diggers and workmen without warning.

Newsagent Eugene Diamond hit out at NIE Networks for failing to give any notice of the disruption to his Broughshane Street premises.

Red barriers lined the street yesterday as cable-laying work continued.

Mr Diamond claimed his shop had been left almost marooned - and disruption had hit his takings in the run-up to Christmas.

"They are laying cable and there should have been some sort of communication with us as retailers. There is a catering company beside me, and he had no contact whatsoever either," he said.

"Nobody told us when it would be starting; nobody told us when it would be finishing. We are people who employ people. I am an employer, I have to find the wages for staff every day.

"And for the last seven or eight days my shop has been nearly inaccessible. There was no notification given whatsoever."

The newsagent, whose shop is on one of the main routes in and out of Ballymena town centre, called on electricity chiefs to instigate processes to give businesses advance warning of such work.

He added: "There should be something in place that they have to tell you what is going on. There has been a dramatic drop in my business.

"A newsagent is a business people need access to; you can't do the sale of newspapers, confectionery and everyday essentials online."

Mr Diamond said the street chaos had been the talk of Ballymena as it coincided with other public realm work in the town centre, which has been ongoing for months.

"A Belfast businessman who happened to be in the town last week had to walk a blind lady down Broughshane Street with her guide dog because both sides of the street had been dug up at the same time," he said.

Mr Diamond said he was not blaming the workmen involved in the scheme, but those who planned the work.

"I was told they will have the section outside my shop finished and they will be off the street by Friday because there is an embargo that they are not allowed to be on the streets then because of Christmas, so it doesn't impact on the festive trading period. However, it has already hit me," he said.

NIE Networks said contractors had been replacing an electricity cable. "Reinstatement along the roadside will be completed by the end of this week to remove the roadworks before the Christmas period," it added.

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