Fury over the latest stage of public realm

David Van Scoy says Portadown needs a break.
David Van Scoy says Portadown needs a break.

Portadown traders are up in arms over a £1m-plus public realm mark two plan that they fear will disrupt the town centre “just three years after the original scheme from which our trade never recovered”.

In the vanguard of the protest is jeweller David Van Scoy of Market Street who claimed that his trade fell by a whopping 69 per cent during the 2010 scheme which, he recalled, turned the town centre into “a building site and chased trade in the direction of Rushmere”.

“It puts a lot of people’s smoke out, allied to the recession and the parking difficulties in Portadown,” he added. “And, frankly, there has been a minimum of publicity surrounding this one, as if they are trying to slip it through. I never managed to get my business back to what it was and this could finish me – and others in a similar position.

“Okay, there was a meeting in the Town Hall last week which few traders attended, proving the lack of pre-publicity – a late letter was sent out. I know it won’t be specifically the town centre this time. But it will be on most of the arterial routes into town. I believe it will be another major knock for trade in a town pitted with ‘For Sale’ and ‘To Let’ signs and saturated with charity shops.”

Routes that will be upgraded in the Linkages scheme are Bridge Street-Carrickblacker Road; Woodhouse Street; Meadow Lane; Castle Street, Wilson Street and Bridge Street; junction of Park Road and Obins Street; West Street to Edgarstown Road; and Craigwell Avenue.

Craigavon Borough Council has appointed international consultants RPS to oversee the job, and to prepare a preliminary design and an economic appraisal.

The original plan was to start in December this year, but traders protested and that has been moved to January 2015 so that Christmas trade won’t be affected. The work is likely to take eight to nine months.

Mr Van Scoy said, “It will affect the routes into Portadown, and is bound to affect trade.”

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