Quay works boost for traders … but shoppers shouldn’t be ‘left in dark’
Tuesday, 29 October 2013
WORK on the multi-million pound Public Realm Scheme along the Quay in Newry will be suspended throughout December to boost retail trade in the area.
But calls have also been made to retain the iconic cherry blossom trees along the canal until the New Year to keep the city's traditional seasonal illuminations in the run-up to the festive season.
Work on the £2.5m restoration to Newry's historic Quay area began last month and includes the upgrading of footpaths and road surfaces, increased and improved lighting provision, under-grounding of overhead services and additional street furniture and foliage throughout the area.
Despite protestations, it also includes the removal of the popular cherry blossom trees, some of which have already been pulled down on Merchants Quay.
But Buttercrane manager Peter Murray has urged the council to stall removing the rest of the trees in a bid to retain Christmas sparkle over the coming weeks.
He said: "At a time when other towns and cities all around are getting ready for Christmas by erecting Christmas decorations, it looks like Newry will be the complete opposite by removing an integral part of the city's traditional seasonal illuminations along the city's historical canal.
“While we reluctantly accept that they trees are going to disappear as part of the Public Realm Works, there's a long time between now and next spring and I think it would make sense to retain them in the interim so that they can be bedecked and decorated with Christmas lights as they normally are, because they without a doubt bring a sparkle along the Quay.
“And with Newry on Ice this year at Albert Basin, I think there's another reason to keep them for that period.
“I'd like to think that the council and the contractors could find in their programme a bit of a window to leave as many as trees up as possible, not just on Buttercrane Quay but right up Merchant Quay as well, and come January take them down."
Mr Murray also congratulated both the council and contractors for suspending work along the Quay to accommodate Christmas shoppers and retailers.
Work on the scheme will cease at the end of November and recommence in mid January.
He added: "There is that window in the run-up to Christmas where there will be little or no disruption in terms of Public Realm Scheme work, which is obviously very important and we appreciate that and I think the whole city centre will appreciate that as it will allow us to do as well as we can in what are challenging times."
A council spokesperson said they hoped the trees would be retained for the Christmas period: "It is still hoped that as per contractor programme, the removal of the trees/lighting and indeed the general works to the Buttercrane Quay section of the Linkages Public Realm Scheme will not be commenced until January 2014.
“Over the Christmas embargo, the contractor as per agreement with DRD, will work behind the protective fence line and allow traffic to flow as normal on the Merchant Quay carriageway."
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