John Lewis have decided not to open a store in NI, because they can't build a store in Sprucefield as a result of a planning decision by Alex Attwood. It is claimed that 1,500 jobs which would have been created as a result of the development. The mayor of Lisburn is hopping, and is calling for his sacking, apparently unaware of the fact that only the SDLP leadership can do that, afaik - and let's face it, that is highly unlikely. Looks like the DUP mayor is doing a bit of showboating, or else he is completely stupid. Peter Robinson has also weighed in .
The fact is that retail is competitive, and there is little or no proof that a new store adds much to the economy apart from the short term construction jobs. It simply moves retail jobs elsewhere. We, the consumers can only spend so much, and what we spend in Sprucefield will be lost to retailers elsewhere, as will jobs. So the claim that 1,500 retail jobs have been lost is a lie, and any reasonably intelligent person can figure that out instantly
Attwood was of course acting on the advice of experts, i.e. our planners, and the fact that John Lewis have thrown a strop doesn't mean that this is the end of the matter anyway. Companies like that always want to expand and they will come here eventually, but it should be on the terms of our expert town planners and not on those of private sector bullies.
Apart from planning issues, the fact is that Belfast needs this investment far more than Lisburn. Belfast city centre, north of Castlecourt, is largely still a wasteland and that needs attention urgently.
Well done Alex Attwood. I'm not your biggest fan, but you got this decision spot on. Don't give in to bullies. Tesco have been doing that for years in Britain. John Lewis, it seems, are playing the same game over here. Hold fast. They will blink first. Companies like that always need to expand. They'llaccept your pre-conditions - eventually.
John Lewis application for Lisburn withdrawn - Headlines - Belfast Newsletter