The cost of hiring a stall at the Lammas Fair this August is to rise by 30% to cover the cost of street cleaning and administering trading licences.
The decision was taken at a meeting of Moyle District Council last Monday night.
Councillors were told that in order to recover the full cost of administering street trading licences, refuse collection and cleaning streets, the cost of a pitch at the Fair would have to rise from £135 to £175.
Although this represents the first rise since 2011, some councillors were unhappy with the price hike.
Independent Cllr Paudie McShane called it “a very steep rise” and Independent Cllr Seamus Blaney called the rise “exorbitant” while UUP Cllr Joan Baird asked was there not a case to be made for zonal pricing.
She asked if traders who chose “more advantageous sites could perhaps be charged more than those in less advantageous ones”.
Chair of Moyle Council, Cllr Cara McShane said she had “serious concerns about the increase and asked why the issue had not been raised at the rates meeting”.
Mr Aidan McPeake from the Council’s Environmental Health department said that they could look at zonal pricing in the future but added that there was no time to carry this out for this year’s Fair.
He said that there is a waiting list for stalls and added that all areas of trading are given the same standard of clean-up afterwards.
He also explained that if councillors wanted to charge stall holders less, then Moyle Council would have to pay for the remainder of the cost of cleaning up after the Fair.
However SDLP Cllr Catherine McCambridge said that traders made a commercial decision whether to come to the Lammas Fair and whether to take a pitch or now.
She added that if Council officers recommended that the increase was needed to cover the cost of tidying up after the fair, then it was “not unreasonable” as there is always a “lot of mess left by stall holders”.
DUP councillor Robert McIlroy added that the £175 covered the cost of 24 hour trading over two days which worked out at £7 per hour.
“If stall holders think that is too dear, there is something wrong. No way should rate payers have to subsidise the cost of the clean up,” he said, proposing that the Council accept the recommendation to rise the price. This was seconded by Cllr McCambridge. Following a vote, the proposal was carried 9 - 4.
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