New location for 120-year-old show not all bad news, shopkeeper claims

Traders to ‘benefit’ from Balmoral Show move

By Paul Ainsworth

THE loss of the Balmoral Show has stirred mixed feelings locally as the agricultural event prepares for what is likely its last appearance in South Belfast.

As some mourn the end of a 120-year tradition due to the planned move of the show to the site of the former Long Kesh prison outside Lisburn, local traders have said they could actually benefit from the decision. The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) have said members are to be consulted on the chance to purchase land at the Maze, which is expected to go ahead, with the first show to be held there next year.

A local businessman based on the Lisburn Road told the South Belfast News that trade was usually down by up to 15 per cent during Balmoral Show week, as people avoid the area “like the plague” due to fears over traffic chaos.

Mark Browne, of Arcadia Delicatessen said how takings are down dramatically when the show rolls into town.

“Unfortunately, people usually avoid the area like the plague as it’s constantly put out on radio that it will be traffic mayhem,” he said.

“It’s true that the likes of Stockmans Lane and Balmoral Avenue can be very busy, but the Lisburn Road is never that badly affected, but people stay away anyway and we lose business as a result.

“Unfortunately, we don’t get all that much of a boost from those visiting the area for the show, as they are usually catered for in the grounds itself, and as a result, in my case, I’ve seen takings drop by up to 15 per cent in show week. In this economic climate that’s just too much to bear anymore, so I’ll not miss it when it moves to the Maze.”

However, Balmoral Councillor Claire Hannah said she would miss the “liveliness and colour’ the show brought to the area, and demanded clarity on future development plans for the Balmoral site.

“I’ve seen takings drop by up to 15 per cent in show week. In this economic climate that’s just too much to bear anymore, so I’ll not miss it when it moves to the Maze.”

“The RUAS were, on the whole, good neighbours, and the annual show and other exhibitions brought liveliness and colour to the whole area,” she said.

“I will ensure that any application for houses on the site will be closely scrutinised by the Town Planning Committee, as the release of 65 acres of land will impact considerably on the Balmoral area.”

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