Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Attwood 'acting like North Korean despot'

When the St Andrews Agreement was signed, we were assured there would be an end to Executive ministers going on 'solo runs'.

Yet, presumably, that is exactly what Alex Attwood has done by his ill-judged and heavily prejudiced comments on the John Lewis Sprucefield proposals.

His statist intervention would do a North Korean despot proud. He arrogates to himself the right to tell the jewel in the crown of all retailers where they must invest and what they can sell.

John Lewis has repeated, ad nauseam, the fact that they do not want to invest in Belfast, yet the pan-Belfast front of politicians, businessmen and government departments seem to be doing all they can to force a change of mind.

They want to formulate investment strategy for John Lewis, who are quite right in rejecting the Belfast offer, given its gridlocked streets, high parking charges and perennial community strife.

Belfast has more retail offering than its population can sustain, yet we see the DSD coughing up £110m for more retail outlets in the Royal Exchange proposals.

There needs to be a full, public inquiry into the scandalous way in which this nine-year-old application has been thwarted.

In the meantime, all Peter Robinson has to do is to announce that he wants the 500 construction jobs and 800 retail sector jobs and that he will slap down Attwood's proposal at the Executive table.

CLLR RONNIE CRAWFORD (UUP)

Lisburn City Council

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