'The Council's meant to help us - not drive us into the ground'

ULSTER Rally cars may have been revving up interest across the country over the weekend but one local businesswoman has expressed concerns that the event may have driven her livelihood into the ground.

Antrim Pets is based in what is normally a prime location with easy access and ample parking at both Railway Street car park and Central Car Park.

But Jeannie Hanna has blasted Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council after she was left looking frantically for customers while the rally left the town centre in a state of upheaval.

She said: “We did nothing over those three days.

“The Castle Mall car park was blocked off for the rally and all the usual vehicles then had to park elsewhere and many of them ended up in Railway Street which meant that all the spaces for our customers were taken.

“I spoke to other businesses over on Castle Walk outside the Mall and they said they faced the same problem, they just had no-one in.

“All these cars had to go somewhere but why didn’t the Council reserve part of the parking for customers?

“No-one could get near us so the chances are they got their bits and pieces in the supermarket instead.

“If I needed to load heavy items, I couldn’t get a car near the shop to do it.”

Jeannie also told the Guardian that she had attempted to contact a relevant staff member in the council to air her concerns but had been told she was ‘on leave’.

“I will definitely be getting in contact with her, I want her to come down and speak to me face to face,” she continued.

“We didn’t make enough to cover the wages and sure the first two days of that rally, they just sat in the car park revving and that.

“Would the sensible thing not have been to take that down to Enkalon?

“Sure there was the space for it and it wouldn’t have cost local businesses three days of trade.

“Things are hard enough without our own Council making it even worse.”

Jeannie is urging the Council to reconsider the events it is involved with and to look at the effect they have on local traders.

“It’s not just this rally,” she continued.

“Look at the Hallowe’en event, that draws all the trade down to The Junction and the Christmas event with the big wheel drew everyone into the Castle Gardens.

“We didn’t have a single customer in on Sunday and now we’re going to feel the effects of it.

“We have to find a way to make ends meet and pay our suppliers so I want to know what the Council is going to do about it.

“The Council is meant to be helping us - not driving us into the ground..

“They cost us the trade so are they going to relax our rent and rates to help us recoup some of that?”

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