BALLYCLARE Chamber of Trade has hit out at the new carrier bag levy as another burden on retailers and shoppers.
A spokesman for the organisation said the introduction of the 5p levy on single-use bags was another charge many could not afford on top of mounting bills.
He said: “It’s another charge that retailers do not need and people can ill afford to pay.
“While the concerns raised about the environment are valid, this levy just represents more attempts by the government to make money and people should not be forced to pay for it.”
The Chamber of Trade is, however, trying to take advantage of using the bag tax to market shopping in Ballyclare.
The spokesman added: “As part of the marketing campaign for the town centre regeneration, we are in the early stages of producing a canvas bag which will bear the ‘Shop in Ballyclare’ logo.
“That will be available soon and hopefully it can play a part in getting the message out that Ballyclare is open for business.”
Meanwhile local traders in Ballyclare said they felt the new bag levy would make little or no difference to trade.
Bert McCormick said: “I won’t be asking people to pay a 5p charge for bags. Most of my customers can put whatever they are buying into a pocket so it won’t make much difference. But if I have to give out a bag, I’ll pay the 5p myself.
“I think they should have banned bags altogether rather than come to this half-way agreement and have the likes of fast food outlets exempt, because that makes up most of the litter you see about the place.”
Mandy Haggan from Haggan’s Fruit Shop on Main Street in Ballyclare said people would get used to the new charge.
She said: “Many of the older generation already carry bags about with them.
“My worry would be that people think it is you that is charging them and they may not come back to you, but it has been advertised well and I think it will probably not make much difference in the end.
“But people have to realise that the bags were never free in the first place, there always has been a bill for them that someone has had to pay.”