Will Belfast’s Big Wheel now roll up in the north west?
After news that the Big Wheel is set to set to stop spinning in Belfast could it be set to roll down the motorway to Londonderry?
As part of Derry’s UK City of Culture bid, calls have been made for the major tourist attraction to be relocated to the north west.
SDLP councillor Mark H Durkan said that a cost analysis of shifting and running the Big Wheel should be carried out.
He said: “This could really help the city with its bid for the UK City of Culture. I’d be very much for it coming here but we must investigate how much it would cost — the last thing we need is another white elephant, but on a temporary basis it could be great. The wheel helped put Belfast on the map and it could help add to Derry’s portfolio of attractions.”
Mr Durkan said that possible locations for the wheel could be the former car park adjacent to the Guildhall or the former Ebrington barracks site which is earmarked for massive regeneration.
“With the new Peace Bridge linking the city centre with Ebrington there would be easy access,” he said.
“This is something that would enhance the tourist product and, indeed, the experience of the people living here. It would be most welcome and should be explored.”
Local businessman Martin McCrossan, who runs City Tours, said that a major draw in the lower city centre would help struggling local traders in the area.
He said: “We are arguing for a major attraction in the area, somewhere along the river bank, around the Guildhall.”
Mr McCrossan, who is chairman of the City Centre Traders Forum, said he was delighted that pedestrianised parts of the lower city centre will be opened up to traffic within weeks as part of major regeneration works currently being carried out in the city centre.
He also said that a locally-based firm such as Cullen’s might be the ideal choice for running a new major attraction in the area.
Tommy Cullen, whose family run Cullen’s Amusements, said he felt the Big Wheel is now getting “old fashioned”.
“They are getting too expensive to get from A to B and run and I don’t think Derry could afford it.”