Alex Easton MLA has today called on Ards and North Down Council to do more to help local business across North Down as Northern Ireland comes out of Lock-down.

Speaking today Alex Easton MLA:


“I have been at the forefront of pushing for my constituency local businesses during the Covid 19 pandemic, making sure that grants were publicized and giving as much help and information to local businesses as possible, pushing hard to make sure that there was a freeze on business rates at a local level, unfortunately there were some I could not help as much as I would have wanted to due to criteria set by Government.”

“The best thing that I can do as an MLA for local business is doing what I am doing is to listen. I want to know your concerns and what is causing problems at the coal face so that I can take these issues to the NI Assembly and to the departments who make policy, but I also believe the local Council should be doing more and I am today calling on the Council to introduce a Capital grant to aid businesses to recover from the Covid 19 lock-down and help keep jobs. “

“I believe that this coming period will be a testing time for our economy but one with the correct leadership could be a significantly positive time for Northern Ireland and North Down and with 9200 people coming back into work from Furlough we need to ensure there is support in place to maintain those jobs and the Council can help with that.”

“While other parties are thinking of quick wins I am thinking of a long term vision for North Down. “

“My vision is one of future proofing the NI economy. That means joined up government across the economy. It means not only bringing new and highly lucrative business to Northern Ireland but making sure that our young people are educated in both the academic and vocational skills to make sure that when we get the business that we will attract, that we have the skills base and experience to assure that we can keep them here and that all of the young people in our constituency who train for an industry will have a job to go to.”

“We have to remember that NI has less than half of the disposable income of GB. An average family here has only £89 disposable income per week whereas on GB they have £197. These new jobs will have a trickle-down effect meaning more tax income for public services, more bed nights in our hotels, more investment and a rise in property, more money for spending in tertiary services, retail and hospitality.”

“We must lead the way on making Northern Ireland fit for business in the 21st Century. It was our minister who decided on a review of non-domestic rates as we know they are one of the most onerous taxes on SMEs, there must be a review on business red tape which will make it easier for companies to comply with regulations without having to spend money and time adhering to duplication of regulations and removing regulations that simply do not need to be there anymore.”

“We must also continue to look at rates and other taxes as well as regulations. For us this is not a one term goal but vision for the future. We really want NI to be ready for business in the 21st century especially for our own indigenous businesses. We want not only to have better regulation but best practice regulation and a tax system that gives businesses a clear idea of what they are paying for and what they receive in return. We want to make access to town centre shopping easier, with removal of Loading bays and more accessible parking; the Council must be brave and look to do away with car parking charges to help our local business survive.”