Belfast Chamber launches ‘Belfast First’ Manifesto

Belfast Chamber launches ‘Belfast First’ Manifesto
-Belfast Chamber launches ‘Belfast First’ Manifesto-
Putting ‘Belfast First’ was front and centre of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce’s Manifesto being launched in Stormont today.
The century-old organisation which represents over 400 businesses in Belfast, used the first page of their ten-year blue print to outline their commitment to “lobbying for and supporting all businesses within the entire city of Belfast.”
The manifesto is built round five core policies in order to “build the strongest possible framework for investment and business growth”.
Make Belfast a self-governing city, with its own fully empowered and fully accountable City Council.
Improve access and infrastructure, with the need for a world-class transport system to help achieve the growth that is planned in the future years.
Grow the city’s position as a world-class tech city with improving download speeds, supporting education and creating a welcoming environment for foreign skilled workers.
Introduce fairer rates and taxes to support existing and attract new business and residential accommodation in the city centre.
Reinvent the city centre in order to attract more retail, commerce and business, city living, hospitality, public events and culture & sport into Belfast.
The document issues a clear call to all political parties to make these priorities for growth a reality for the whole of Northern Ireland and to Put Belfast First.
Speaking at the event held in Stormont’s Long Gallery, Gordon McElroy, President of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce said: “I am proud to stand here today alongside my Executive Council members to launch our manifesto today.
“We believe that this document sets a very clear set of objectives to ensure that our government puts Belfast at the centre and heart of all policies for Northern Ireland.
“As the home of our legislature, gateway to the province and our largest population centre, only Belfast can be Northern Ireland’s world class city with all of the benefits that brings for the region as a whole.
“Belfast city is the pulse, the beating heart of Northern Ireland. When Belfast is healthy then so too is the rest of the country.
“The Belfast Metropolitan Area has a population of 580,000 out of Northern Ireland’s total population of 1.8M. This centre of population is the gateway for business and economic activity for the whole region.
He continued: “The Brexit vote creates new challenges and opportunities for Belfast as the capital of the region. Putting Belfast First, means getting the best for Belfast, the only UK capital city neighbouring the European Union.”
Gordon concluded: “Our policy and aim is to make Northern Ireland an excellent place for business by ensuring that Belfast thrives. The success of Belfast is a pre-requisite for a dynamic province and these policies are designed to ensure the secure long-term growth of our city.”
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Brian Kingston, said: “I commend the Belfast Chamber for their foresight in bringing forward this strategic vision for the development of our city centre over the coming decade. 
“It is an ambitious manifesto, and one which echoes many of the priorities which Belfast City Council has laid down for itself in the same period, not least through the City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy.
The Lord mayor concluded, “The devolution of planning powers undoubtedly has greatly assisted the Council to help drive forward the ambitions of the city’s commercial sector, by responding to its needs more efficiently and positively, thus helping us all rise to the challenges of shaping the continued development of our city, making it a vibrant, modern and progressive urban hub, and a place which is attractive to both existing and future investors.”
Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce is made up of businessmen and women from a full range of commercial enterprises from retailers to hoteliers, solicitors to estate agents, property developers to media, tech companies to transport providers. See the Manifesto document in full, go to 
Photo caption: Michelle Greeves, Manager of Victoria Square, and senior vice President of BCTC is pictured alongside Bill Wolsey, owner of the Beannchor Group, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Brian Kingston and Gordon McElroy, President of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce are pictured launching the Belfast First Manifesto.
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