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‘Financial difficulties’ force closure

By Paul Ainsworth

ONE of the Lisburn Road’s few remaining pubs has closed its doors due to “financial difficulties”.

In a week that saw other business closures along the troubled retail thoroughfare, Ma Nelson’s on the lower Lisburn Road has also pulled the shutters, citing huge rent and rates bills among other issues affecting profit.

This echoes the lot of other business owners in the once prime shopping district who have said rent and rates are pushing trade to a precipice and causing closures week on week across South Belfast. The pub premises, which was at various times, Deez, Hunter’s and Vaughn’s, has struggled to maintain an identity over the years, with numerous management and name changes. It was hoped that by making a name as a venue for live rock bands, Ma Nelson’s would succeed where previous incarnations had failed.

Speaking with the South Belfast News, Ma Nelson’s owner Tina Calder said despite a dedicated clientele, the financial burden became too much to bear.

“Besides rent and rates, it got to the point where we couldn’t keep up maintenance of the building, despite already having spent a lot on it so far,” she said.

“We had hoped to keep it open a bit longer also but it just wasn’t viable anymore. It’s a shame as we had really turned things around for the premises after what had gone before.”

SDLP councillor Claire Hannah said it was “sad” to see the popular venue close, and called for more flexibility on rent along the road.

“Reduced rent is better than no rent,” she said. “The management had really gone the extra mile to make sure the venue was a benefit to the business community here and it’s sad to see it close. The issue of rents and rates isn’t going away, and we need to confront it or more closures will follow.”


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