By Paul Ainsworth

THE Belfast Media Group is launching an online campaign to help support smaller businesses, as part of our new Buy Local campaign.

Following the campaign’s launch last week, readers of the South Belfast News and its sister papers the North Belfast News and Andersonstown News have shown support for the initiative, which aims to help smaller independent stores and firms survive the ongoing crippling economic climate.

Now supporters can add their voice to an online petition, which calls for the implementation of proposals by Stormont Finance Minister Sammy Wilson to increase  the rates of larger “mega-stores” and huge “out-of-town” supermarkets to create revenue which will offer rates relief for the smaller, struggling businesses trying to compete in our city and right across the North.

The plans are currently out for consultation, with a decision expected in the future, but now our readers can show they are backing this rates relief plan, and show they are supporting our Buy Local campaign, by visiting www.belfastmediagroup.com

Calling upon the residents of Belfast and other areas showing signs of recession fatigue to sign up, Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association – the body whose primary goal is to keep small businesses open – spoke with the Belfast Media Group to stress the importance of the issue.

“This plan is achievable, and will be hugely beneficial to over 9,000 small businesses that are struggling with their current rates bill,” he explained.

“It’s a crucial initiative, and I very much support the Belfast Media Group’s Buy Local campaign and the petition to get these rates relief measures implemented. Northern Ireland is very much a small business economy, with retailers not just providing jobs, but also vital community services.

“From your local butcher to the post office to the convenience store, businessmen and women are being forced to pay more per square foot on rates that the bigger chain stores.

“If those big-name stores pay 20 per cent more in their rates, then the revenue created through that will offer a lifeline in terms of relief for our hard-working small shops and outlets.”

Belfast Media Group Managing Director Máirtín Ó Muilleoir added: “If we wish to nurture community, create meaningful jobs, and spread the wealth, we need to ensure our local businesses not only survive, but thrive. We welcome the proposals by Minister Wilson and see this petition as shoring up his position as his progressive measures come under attack from the multinationals.”

Sign the petition
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