Blaney set to start pro-Tesco petition

A BALLYCASTLE councillor says he is to make a final big push in the hope of persuading planners to allow an edge-of-town-centre Tesco store at Leyland Road.

Independent representative Seamus Blaney says he is launching a 'Bring Tesco to Ballycastle' petition.

Cllr Blaney made the declaration at a meeting between Moyle Council and planners after a planning official revealed their department recently met with Ballycastle town centre traders.

Many town centre traders fear the go-ahead for a Tesco store on the fringes of the town centre - at Leyland Road - could spell disaster for them.

But many people in the town also want to be able to do their main weekly supermarket shopping in Ballycastle instead of travelling to Ballymoney or Coleraine.

Cllr Blaney is a supporter of Tesco coming to Leyland Road and he hoped planners will also listen to the 'other side of the story' and he announced he is going to get up a petition to leave it in to planners.

It was Cllr Blaney who raised the matter of Tesco at last week's Council meeting when he asked if there was any update with the planning process. Tesco has submitted plans for a store and also housing at Leyland Road.

A planning officer told the meeting that after receiving "additional information" from Tesco's agent they have being going round consultees again and it was revealed a meeting has taken place between Ballycastle traders and the Divisional Planning Manager.

Cllr Blaney said: "I take if if you are taking soundings off traders will you will take soundings from the public?"

The planning official said they have already met Tesco on numerous occasions and the planning department has received "considerable" written objections and support for Tesco which will all be considered.

Cllr Blaney said there is a petition on the go at the moment saying 'Save Our Town Centre' but he said it is available in a shop which is "not even in the town centre".

Cllr Blaney said it is important that the views of the ordinary person on the street who wants Tesco to come to Ballycastle have their voices heard by planners and as such he would be starting a petition.

The planning officer said whatever is submitted to them will be considered.

Cllr Catherine McCambridge (SDLP) wondered if it was possible to say when planners will make their decision but the planning official said they could not give a timescale.

Independent councillor Padraig McShane joked that perhaps the decision could be made before the Local Government Election in May this year.

The planning officer said another meeting with Tesco could be in the pipeline.

DUP councillor Robert McIlroy said planners always put a "great urgency" on the Council to respond to them "but we never put time on planners."

Recently Tesco campaigner, Ballycastle taxi driver Martin McCormick, announced he was approached by local people asking him to stand for Council on the supermarket issue and he said he is still considering that.

And already other Council candidates like Independent Kevin McAuley have commented on the Tesco issue.

While on the one hand many town centre traders pushing the campaign against Tesco coming to Leyland Road, on the other side of the argument, Tesco have their own website set up to promote the case for their store in Ballycastle.

On the website people can log on to give their name and the Tesco website also gives a link where people can download and print a letter in support of the application which they ask people to send off to planners in Coleraine with the address and planning case number provided.

A Facebook site entitled 'Do you want Tesco in Ballycastle?' has over 850 'friends' although there does not appear to be any indication of how many people are for or against the store.