Plans to prevent Lismore Comprehensive School pupils from leaving the campus at lunchtime could cause an “economic meltdown” in Craigavon, it has been claimed.
Business people in Tullygally, Moyraverty and Legahory called on Lismore School not to implement the change as it could mark the end of their viability.
Many local traders contacted the paper over the past week since news broke that some students will be banned from leaving the school vicinity during lunchtime.
Businessman Lorne Greene of Nisa in Legahory said it could turn an already deprived area into an “economic no man’s land”.
Many businesses, from shops to takeaways, feel their future is bleak if the lunchtime custom from the schoolchildren is removed, which could have a knock-on effect on other businesses.
Tom Greene of Nisa said, “The Brownlow area is an area of high deprivation. Many businesses rely on the lunchtime trade of the Lismore pupils and without that those businesses could fold.”
He explained that each of the centres at Tullygally, Legahory and Moyraverty do not have passing trade so the school lunch trade is vital for their existence.
The lynchpin of the Legahory centre is the shop, post office and cafe, all of which are used by the students. Lorne said that in the summer these businesses tend to experience a severe slump in trade when the students are on holiday. He added that if these shops are forced to shut then the entire centre would close down.
“This is a small eco system here and it is central that the business from Lismore continues,” he said. “If the pupils aren’t allowed out it will cause absolute mayhem. It will be like an economic nuclear bomb going off in Craigavon.”
New principal Mrs Fiona Kane and acting head Mrs Rosemary Lavery said they intend to bring in a change preventing students from year 9-12 from leaving the campus primarily for health and safety reasons.
There will be a pilot scheme in June and the restrictions will apply formally in September. Year 8 pupils already remain on campus but this would extend to all other students apart from lower and upper sixth.
Mrs Lavery explained that the issue of health and safety had been raised over many years but postponed until now.
Mrs Kane added that the move was backed by the student council and Board of Governors.
“We are not here to provide a livelihood but we are here to provide an education for the children,” she said.