‘Back our five steps to transform city’s future’

Belfast Chamber says nothing short of full Executive return will do

By Claire Cartmill
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 6:00 am
Simon Hamilton, Belfast Chamber chief executive, Leona Barr, centre manager, CastleCourt,  Zoe Watson, operations director, Clover Group, Michael Stewart, Belfast Chamber president and Peter McCausland, director, Value Cabs
Simon Hamilton, Belfast Chamber chief executive, Leona Barr, centre manager, CastleCourt, Zoe Watson, operations director, Clover Group, Michael Stewart, Belfast Chamber president and Peter McCausland, director, Value Cabs

Belfast Chamber has called on candidates in the city to support its plans to revitalise Belfast’s economy after next month’s election.

Launched today, the Chamber’s ‘Belfast City Commitment’ urges election candidates to support their five-fold programme to make Belfast one of Europe’s leading innovative and sustainable cities.

It’s ‘5 Commitments For A Better Belfast’ sets out five asks of the next Executive and Assembly in areas including infrastructure, governance, connectivity, and housing in an attempt to help Belfast reach the standard set by competitor cities like Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham.

Michael Stewart, Belfast Chamber president, Simon Hamilton, Belfast Chamber chief executive, Leona Barr, centre manager, CastleCourt, Zoe Watson, operations director, Clover Group and Peter McCausland, director, Value Cabs

Growing the city centre population by 20,000 and making Belfast a people-centred, safe, and clean city are among the priorities set out in the policy document.

Specific proposals include the delivery of a Belfast city centre housing plan, an upgrade of its water and sewage system and a review into the powers of local government across Northern Ireland.

And the membership body, which represents over 800 businesses, has called for the immediate restoration of the Executive following May’s election.

Belfast Chamber chief executive, Simon Hamilton, says that the city is “perfectly positioned to push on” and be a catalyst for Northern Ireland’s economic regeneration, but that an absent Stormont could hamper Belfast’s future growth.

Mr Hamilton said: “Belfast’s story is not fully written. Our city is still a work in progress, emerging from the challenges of the past, but headed towards a brighter future.

“To that end, we are asking candidates in the upcoming Assembly election to help our city realise its potential. Not in 20 or 30 years, but now.

“Our Belfast City Commitment asks election candidates to pledge their support for five steps we believe will spark a gear-change in how we do business in the city.

“If implemented, our asks will transform Belfast into an innovative, inclusive, and sustainable city fit for whatever the future may hold. What we need is Stormont support to help us achieve that.

“An absent Executive following next week’s poll would deliver nothing for the Belfast economy and would impact negatively on the city’s growth. Anything short of a full return will damage investment prospects, hamper long-term development, and would endanger the hard-earned progress we have made over recent years.

“Our message to the next cohort of MLAs is clear and unequivocal: to deliver for Belfast, we need the Executive to return immediately.

“Belfast is the engine room of our regional economy and is perfectly positioned to push on and provide more jobs, more investment, and more regeneration for the whole of Northern Ireland.

“Belfast businesses have, time and time again, demonstrated their commitment to the city through investing in regeneration projects and creating jobs. In our Belfast City Commitment, we ask our Assembly candidates to do the same.”