By Paul Alexander
There is renewed hope that the Ballymena Saturday Market will relocate from the Seven Towers Leisure Centre to the Ballymoney Road car park at the beginning of this summer.
Alderman Audrey Wales MBE of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, who proposed the move last June, said she was hopeful that it would take place in the months ahead.
When asked if the move has been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic Alderman Wales said: “Like everything else things move slowly. Covid really has put things back that we had wanted to go ahead. But hopefully – hopefully – at the beginning of the summer the market will move.”
In relation to why the market is being moved, Alderman Wales referred to the new road being constructed which will join a section of the Larne Road Link and Kernohans Lane.
She said: “That is going to cut down the space that is there. We thought it would be a good opportunity to actually take this time now to move the market down to the Ballymoney Road car park.
“It’s actually closer to the centre of the town and we hope that we can encourage more customers down to the market. It’s just it is such a popular market on Saturday mornings and it would be a shame not to give it proper facility.”
Asked whether the move was intended to help the market or the town centre, Alderman Wales said: “It’s to do both because when people are visiting the market, we hope they’ll walk on up the street into the town. And when people are in town, we hope that they’ll come down to the market. So hopefully it’ll help both.”
When recalling her own experiences of the Ballymena Saturday Market, she said: “I waited 15 minutes last Saturday to get fish from the fishmongers that’s there. So it just goes to show people are really interested in keeping the market and want the market and support it.”
Alderman Wales was clear about the importance of the reaction of the market traders themselves. She said: “Well you wouldn’t move a market without the traders having a say in where the market was going and that was their preferred site as well. The consultation was with the traders as well which is very important.”
She also stated how the proposal was largely supported by her fellow councillors. When asked if there were any major objections, she said: “None at all – purely because of the reasons why it was having to move. Fair enough – there might have been one or two people (who) liked another site or wanted it somewhere else, but whenever everything came down as to the reasons it was fine.”