Programme of events planned to help Belfast recover from Primark fire

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A ski slope, ferris wheel and a mini festival have been announced in a programme of events aimed at helping Belfast recover following a major fire.

Belfast City Council has announced details of a £1.69 million package aimed at attracting people into the city centre.

It is also seeking an urgent meeting with the Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and the head of Civil Service David Sterling to discuss financial support for the package as well as the long term recovery of the city centre.

Earlier this week it emerged that a fire which devastated the front section of the Bank Buildings in Belfast caused a 30% drop in footfall.

The historic building, which housed Primark, was left a charred shell after the blaze which started on August 28 and took several days to extinguish.

A cordon has been extended around the perimeter leaving 14 businesses unable to trade.

Restrictions are expected to be in place until after Christmas, Belfast City Council has said.

On Friday, the council announced a programme of events aimed at helping the city to recover.

The city infrastructure investment includes tourism and family attractions such as a ski slope, ferris wheel, amusements and family zones.

The council is also investing in outdoor seating and tables, enhanced street lighting and street art, to improve the landscape while work on Bank Buildings continues.

The main programme of larger events starts on October 26 with the Castle Street fair.

Events that follow will include the Halloween family tours and activity, the Monster Mash, the Red Bull F1 Showdown and Eddie Irvine Racing, a mini Mela, a mini Festival of Fools and a Victorian fair.

The opening of the city-wide infrastructure attractions will be on November 18, the day of the Christmas lights switch-on.

The council is also considering extending the Christmas market at City Hall, subject to interest from traders.

Alderman Jim Rodgers, chairman of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, said they want to see the city centre bustling with shoppers.

“We know that businesses around the cordon are really suffering from a drop in footfall,” he said.

“This programme of activity will enhance what Belfast has to offer and help to bring people into the city centre, particularly in the run up to Christmas.

“We want to see Belfast bustling with shoppers and families and having these major attractions will help to bring people into the areas which have been most impacted by the fire at Bank Buildings.

“We know that there are still challenges ahead for our business community but as a council, we are committed to showing leadership on this issue and doing everything in our power to restore and revitalise our city centre to the very vibrant place we know it to be.”

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