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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Balfour (Local Democracy Reporter)

Consultation approved to consider designating Ballymoney and Coleraine as ‘holiday resorts’


Causeway Coast and Glens have approved a public consultation around designating Coleraine and Ballymoney as holiday resorts.

It follows a request, by supermarket retailer Lidl, to designate the two towns as holiday resorts in order to avail of longer Sunday opening hours under the Shops (Sunday Trading etc) (Northern Ireland) Order 1997.

At an environmental Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 11, an officer said the council had previously designated Portrush, Portstewart and Ballycastle as holidays resorts under the order.

“The order allows district councils to designate any area within its district as a holiday resort,” an officer added. “In a designated holiday resort area, large shops may open at any time on up to 18 Sundays, between March and September each year.

“There is no interpretive definition of ‘holiday resort’ in the legislation, and before making a holiday resort designation the council must first consult persons likely to be affected by the proposed designation.

“The decision tonight is where we proceed to the consultation, so no matter what there has to be a consultation process that we go through if we decide to progress.”

DUP Alderman Mark Fielding was opposed to the consultation as he felt it wasn’t essential and shop workers and unions were opposed. He proposed rejecting the request.

DUP Alderman Aaron Callan said a similar request was made in 2021 and at that time union representatives warned of added pressure to retail workers.

“This again would put additional pressure on those retail workers,” he added. “And also, when it comes to the question about the definition of a holiday resort, I would say that obviously the towns that have been designated as a holiday resort would be defined as a holiday seaside town resort rather than main trading towns.”

UUP Councillor Darryl Wilson argued that the extended hours could potentially lead to more jobs in both towns.

Councillor Wilson added: “It could also be argued that, within a cost of living crisis, many members of the public would see [supermarkets] as a place where they can get certain items cheaper maybe than elsewhere.”

Alliance Councillor Lee Kane said designating Ballymoney and Coleraine as resort towns was a “sticking point”, but saw no issue with extending the opening hours.

“They aren’t resort towns at the end of the day,” he concluded. “And it seems that the legislation itself is not particularly good legislation. But I don’t have any issue with moving towards a consultation and having a wider discussion.

“Somebody pointed out to me that you can’t go to Lidl in Coleraine but you can drive five minutes down the road and go to Lidl and Portrush on a Sunday morning.

“What’s the difference, why would you need to go at 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning just because you’re on holiday? So I would maybe be more towards going ahead with a consultation and getting the thoughts of the people in the borough.”


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