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New signs erected in Belfast city centre to 'encourage and direct footfall' following Primark fire

Belfast City Council has erected new signs in the city centre to "encourage and direct footfall" following the Primark fire. Picture by Hugh Russell
Marie Louise McConville

NEW signs "to encourage and direct footfall" have been put up around Belfast city centre in the aftermath of the Primark fire.

Following a blaze at Bank Buildings last month, a cordon remains around the historic building, closing off Royal Avenue, one of the city centre's busiest streets.

Fourteen traders within the cordon remain unable to trade, prompting anger from business owners who have called on city officials to do more to help them and generate more footfall into the city in the run-up to the Christmas shopping period.

Yesterday, Belfast City Council erected new signage around the city centre aimed at showing shoppers where the cordon extends and which streets and shops are open for business.

The signs also list key streets and the shops which are open and closed along them.

The council said: "Pedestrians can follow this trail and also use the maps which are being positioned at key junctures across the city centre to see which businesses are currently closed and which are open within the immediate area of the cordon".

Meanwhile, Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce will meet with Secretary-of-State Karen Bradley today "to push for further clarity on what can be done urgently to help" businesses affected by the Primark fire.

The meeting comes after the chamber met with traders, agents and landlords on Monday night to discuss their concerns in the aftermath of the blaze.

Chamber president Rajesh Rana said: "Business owners from a wide range of sectors voiced their frustration regarding the continued lost trade which is affecting not only businesses within the cordon and immediate area, but right across the city.

"Whilst we are doing everything within our power, we are not the decision makers. There has never been more need for the Northern Ireland Executive to get back to power to help these Belfast businesses in the crucial run up to Christmas".

Meanwhile, fashion retailer DV8 has become the first retailer who relocate following the fire.

The clothes store, which had been based at Castle Place within the cordon is to open in a ground floor unit in Castle Court within the coming days.

Spanish fashion retailer, Zara, which is based just yards from Primark on Royal Avenue - and which remains closed inside the cordon area - said it would continue to pay staff adding that it will be "a case of business as usual once the store opens again".

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