​Shadow Secretary of State Hilary Benn hails ‘great efforts’ of Newry’s flooded traders

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Hilary Benn MP, was told by businesses that the “lack of a warning" around the recent flooding in Newry proved costly.
Hilary Benn meets with council, business and political representatives.Hilary Benn meets with council, business and political representatives.
Hilary Benn meets with council, business and political representatives.

Mr Benn met with businesses impacted by flooding in Newry City as well as some businesses based in Flurrybridge Enterprise Park which was also badly hit.

The Labour MP told the Newry Reporter that he visited the city “to hear directly about the impact of the flooding on the town centre”.

He added: “I met a group of traders who told me what happened to their businesses and about the great efforts they are making to try and get up and running again.

"We also talked about the problems of getting insurance and the lack of a warning. A number of them said to me that if they had been told that flooding was expected then they could have moved stock to a safer location.

"I also spoke to the Chamber of Commerce about the wider implications of growing flood risk for the economy of Newry.

“It is vital that the financial help that has been made available gets out to traders and residents as quickly as possible, and that the Northern Ireland civil service and the Secretary of State consider what further help is needed.

“I will be raising all this in the House of Commons on Wednesday."

Mr Benn's visit came off the back of a visit by Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris a fortnight ago where he announced a reallocation of up to £15 million to help support businesses affected by severe flooding.

Political representatives have warned that the sum may not be enough support for businesses.

Julie Gibbons, President of Newry Chamber thanked the Shadow Secretary of State for accepting the Chamber's invitation to visit Newry “and for the empathy he showed to those impacted”.

"He fully engaged and acknowledged the scale of the financial package needed to help businesses to get trading again and back to were they where prior to the flooding,” she added.

"We stressed to him the need for major investment in infrastructure to address the infrastructure deficit over recent decades and he acknowledged the need for this investment to restore confidence and allow us to grow our city economically.

"He assured us he will be raising the need for a further financial package and infrastructure investment in the House of Commons during NI Questions next week.

"Our message though is loud and clear - Newry is open for business and we encourage everyone to shop local and support the shops and businesses across our city and district."