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“LEAVE BYRNES’ ALONE” | Anger after decades old store prohibited from selling petrol in Antrim

The community have reacted with anger after Day Today, known locally as Brynes’ Garage, on Church Street in Antrim, was ordered to stop selling petrol when Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council refused an application to renew the business’ Petroleum Licence.

The garage has been a local landmark in the town for many years. A family business established over 70 years ago, it boasts no large forecourt, nor multiple fancy fuel pumps, but has a fuel pump situated on the footpath, where drivers pull up at the roadside for refuelling.

On Christmas Eve, the business took to social media to clarify that although they were prohibited from selling petrol, they still could sell diesel. The short post said:

“Dear customers and the good people of Antrim, just to clarify, we currently are not allowed to sell petrol, but good quality diesel. As usual, thanks for your support, and kind words - we will keep you updated.”

Customers and supporters took to Facebook to voice their fury and solidarity with the owners. One supporter, named Davy, said:

“I was informed late last night that a local institution, Byrnes’ Garage in the town, has been suspended from selling petrol - the lifeblood of their Garage (they are intending to appeal)!

“This (is) due to what I can only see as a health and safety issue, although I can't find a record of any accidents over the many, many years they have been trading.

“If like me, you have relied on Byrnes’ over the years, especially over Christmas when everywhere was closed you could still get the essentials on the Big Day, I would hate to see this landmark of a business have to close.”

Appealing to others, Davy continued:

“I can't really do a petition, but I can ask members of the page, if they don't agree with this order to simply like this post, or leave a comment if you want, or simply post "LBA" (Leave Byrnes’ Alone), so we have some sort of record that can be shown to the council regarding this matter.

“Keep our town centre active. Enough businesses have had to close due to poor Town Centre management, or indeed Covid.”

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council have cited that a failure to comply with applicable legislation around Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 led to the council’s refusal to renew the licence.

A spokesperson for the local authority, told Love Ballymena:

“The Council has been working with the owner of Day Today, Church Street, Antrim to ensure compliance with the legislation for the renewal of a Petroleum Licence.

“Following the issuing of a notice to cease the sale of petroleum from the premises and subsequent appeal by the owner of the businesses, the Northern Ireland Health and Safety Tribunal has ruled that petrol can no longer be dispensed from the Day Today premises.

“The Tribunal’s findings indicated that this decision was due to extremely hazardous nature of selling petrol from a roadside dispensing pump, located on a public highway with an adjoining residential property.

“This ruling only applies to the sale of petrol, it does not affect the sale of goods from the shop nor changing to the sale of diesel and the current petrol tank can be converted to facilitate diesel.”

The council spokesperson concluded: “Day Today, locally known as Byrne’s Garage, is part of the history of Antrim Town. The Council is continuing to work with the owner to secure compliance with the Tribunal’s ruling to ensure the safety of both residents and customers.”