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Ballymena Church Street

The ‘public realm scheme’ that has caused Ballymena to look a bit like this [above pic] has been in the air for a few years now.

At the time of it’s announcement Nelson McCausland said…

Ultimately what we want is to provide a completely new look and feel to the whole of the town centre, putting people first, which is what really matters

And now the work has begun… the initial air of optimism and excitement has diminished a little.

Last week The Ballymena Times reported on the start of the work and it’s initial effect on the streets and, then shared the fears of local business owner Maureen Barr. Earlier in the month they had reported the thoughts of long-standing Ballymena business man Matthew McKillen here.

If you don’t fancy reading all of the above links… here’s a quick overview! It’s all negative!

The concerns of local business owners are valid and important and should be heard and, something tells me we will continue to hear their stories over the next 18 months as this work progresses. A business owners commitment to running a business, serving people, staff, rates bills etc. is real, full of challenges and vital to the survival of our towns in Northern Ireland. They need support from the public and from the agencies and organisations who control the bigger picture of what happens in our towns.

Ian Paisley Jnr. reckons this could damage our town… but in light of his public support for a recently confirmed & pretty large out-of-town development we were left scratching our heads at the double-standards on display.

I’m going to track this over the next 18 months and occasionally blog about it… the improvement of our town is a superb idea and ‘putting people first’ is a wonderful concept… these and other positive phrases have been used by an awful lot of people in regard to Ballymena over the past year.

And yet, there is a lot of negative reaction to this work.

What’s going to stick? What’s going to work… and what, if any, of these projects will really put people first and actually improve anything?

Let’s see what happens.

For a regular positive and wide-ranging look at Ballymena, it’s businesses & organisations; check out our Ballymena Today project.