McGrath Calls For Action For A High Street Task Force

McGrath says urgency needed for High Street Task Force.

McGrath says urgency needed for High Street Task Force.

SDLP Executive Office Committee Chairman, Colin McGrath MLA, has said it is disappointing that six months after the launch, the High Street Task Force is only inviting participants to sit on the Group now.

The South Down MLA said given the huge impact of the pandemic on our High Streets, this work should be prioritised, “with some urgency behind it.”

South Down MLA Colin McGrath.

The South Down MLA added: “I have been asking for an update on the High Street Task Force for weeks now, given it was announced more than six months ago.

“While I recognise significant work has gone underway, it disappointing that the Junior Ministers have just confirmed they only are inviting participants to sit on this Group now.”

Mr McGrath said that quick action and important intervention as a matter of priority.

He said: “It is clear that our High Streets were on their knees before the Covid-19 pandemic, and due to the pandemic, traders and shops are now on their backs.

St Patrick’s Avenue, Downpatrick, with many small shops closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

“There needs to be urgency to this work otherwise we will lose many of these businesses for good and that would be a terrible tragedy.”

“I very much hope the High Street Task Force work is at an advanced stage and will bring forward practical solutions to drive thriving high streets across the North.

“As Committee Chair, I will continue to hold Ministers to account and ensure High Streets and small retailers, heavily impacted by Covid-19, get the support they need and deserve.”

Downpatrick’s Market Street has many closed businesses due to Covid-19.

When the furlough scheme ends soon, it is possible that many retail employees could face redundancy.