‘Stop our town dying out’ - call

High Street in Carrickfergus (file photo)  INCT 10-409-RM
High Street in Carrickfergus (file photo) INCT 10-409-RM

Carrick traders are calling on shoppers to help halt the “demise” of the town centre following news that two local retail outlets are set to close.

Both Pebbles Embroidery on North Street and Poundstretcher’s High Street will cease operating next month.

Last week, residents took to social media sites to voice their support for Pebbles, which has had a 32-year presence in the town.

“So sad to see this shop close,” one Facebook user said. “Carrick town centre has so much potential.”

“Going to miss this shop. I’ve been going down for 12 years for school jumpers,” another added.

With Pebbles owners, Jean and George Sharples pointing to high overhead costs coupled with a lack of footfall in the town, several users suggested that more could be done to tackle rate relief for small businesses.

“Carrick should be thriving on tourism. Rates and rents are too high,” a Facebook user said.

At the time of going to press, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council was unavailable for comment on the issue.

Meanwhile, the funds spent on the public realm scheme in 2012, a joint initiative by local government and Stormont, also came under fire, with one poster claiming: “Horrendous amount of public money wasted on a pretty footpath when the buildings are empty and crumbling either side of it.

“I watched the really successful regeneration of my local village Whiteabbey happen over the last few years and a real sense of community developing. It’s such a shame that Carrick town has not seen the regeneration and money seems to consistently be diverted outside the town.

“Shame on those responsible for not making the town investable in the long term; the seaside town potential is huge.”

However, the support of local shoppers is a more immediate concern, according to a number of traders.

“It is easy to blame everyone else about Carrick’s demise when you are sitting in a taxi to and from the Abbey Centre or Belfast,” one post read.

Another trader added: “People in Carrickfergus need to make more of an effort to support what is already in the town and the council need to work to reduce the rates.

“That is the only way to attract new businesses and stop our town dying out. We should be as popular a shopping town as Holywood, more in fact as we’ve got tourist attractions on our doorstep.”