Business

New Belfast Chamber president sets out ambition for 'clean, safe and vibrant city'

New Belfast Chamber president Alana Coyle. Picture: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye

BELFAST Chamber of Commerces new president has pledged to remove the city's "dirty old town" image and ensure the basics of cleanliness and safety don't become a deterrent for visitors or investment.

Alana Coyle, a partner at commercial real estate advisory firm Finch, was elected by the Chamber to succeed Michael Stewart.

She said: “Belfast has come on leaps and bounds in the last 20 years and has undoubtedly changed for the better, but we also need to be honest and acknowledge when things aren't up to scratch.

“Belfast Chamber has long reiterated that clean and safe streets are the bedrock of any successful city. Many will share my concerns that Belfast is experiencing serious issues at present with cleanliness and safety. A recent survey of 160 members showed that nearly two thirds thought that the cleanliness of the city centre was poor or very poor whilst 72 per cent of businesses believed that the city was less clean and less safe since the pandemic. That simply isn't good enough.

“We expect those with responsibility to do more and to do better, and we will work with the City Council, PSNI and other stakeholders to raise standards.

“We have come so far as a city. We have worked hard to transform Belfast. We cannot allow the basics of cleanliness and safety to become a deterrent for visitors or investment.”

Ms Coyle said a key area of focus for Belfast Chamber has been to encourage the accelerated delivery of the regeneration of Belfast, and we have sought to lead the debate on Belfast's regeneration on behalf of all of our members.

“My career in commercial real estate working with clients across a range of sectors to help improve our city, has made me very aware of how important rebuilding Belfast is both symbolically and strategically, and it is amazing to see so many major infrastructure projects like the Ulster University campus, Belfast Transport Hub, new hotels and office accommodation and thousands of purpose built student beds rising out of the ground, being built by Belfast Chamber members and signifying Belfast's ongoing renewal.

“Belfast Chamber has devoted a lot of time in recent years to thinking about the spaces between those places and how we can make Belfast a more people centred city. We recognise that attracting and retaining talent is central to Belfast's economic success. It is also a recognition of the reality that people's expectations of cities like Belfast is changing.

“During my time as president, the Chamber will continue to work with our partners in City Hall and Stormont to push forward that positive agenda for Belfast, seeking to build a city that is an even better place to live, work, study and visit and, in so doing, benefit businesses across Belfast.”

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