Freedom event ‘affected town centre trading’


More could have been done to facilitate traders and shoppers during Saturday’s Freedom of the Borough ceremony in Carrickfergus, it has been claimed.

The service saw Mid and East Antrim Borough Council confer the honour on B (North Irish Horse) Squadron, Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry.

The programme of events included a ceremony during which the squadron were granted Honorary Freedom of the Borough, followed by a parade through the town and a civic reception.

Noel Williams, chairman of the newly-formed Carrickfergus Town Centre Partnership said: “The Freedom of the Borough event effectively closed down the town centre from a trading perspective.

“I’ve been approached by a number of business owners who complained that the event was a ‘trading disaster’. They are of the opinion that more could have been done to facilitate shoppers.

“Car parks were closed to the general public and no others were made available; alternative arrangements could have been made.”

While the council did distribute leaflets to inform traders of the event in advance, the ceremony did not appear to bring additional footfall into the town centre as anticipated, Mr Williams, a former councillor, added.

“I would encourage local businesses to join the Carrickfergus Town Centre Partnership to make their voices heard and to work effectively with the local authority,” he said.