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DUP 'killed off John Lewis superstore plan'

The announcement by Environment Minister Alex Attwood about new planning restrictions at Sprucefield seems to have dealt the final blow to the decade-old plan for a John Lewis store.

Be in no doubt about where the core responsibility for this situation lies. This argument wasn't lost on economic factors, it wasn't lost in the Planning Department and it wasn't lost based on the needs of the Lisburn area. The death-knell for the John Lewis project lies squarely within the DUP.

The DUP has an MP and four MLAs in Lagan Valley. It also has 15 councillors on Lisburn City Council. Yet they were still unable to win the argument with the greater Belfast-centric DUP headquarters.

Through the Executive, the DUP was able to force the SDLP environment minister to adopt an 11-council model that he was opposed to and, if they had had the will, they could have forced the John Lewis issue, as well.

This situation doesn't bode well for Lisburn when we are merged with Castlereagh council in two years' time. Can we have any reasonable expectation that our DUP councillors won't just follow the party line from their bosses in Castlereagh? This merger of two DUP-dominated councils has shown that the needs of Forestside will outweigh Sprucefield.

We need the resources of the new council to be allocated on need - not shared out to protect long-standing political fiefdoms.

NEIL McNICKLE

Lagan Valley Conservative Association

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