£100,000 more for town festive lighting scheme

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It may be ‘lights out’ for plans to improve the festive lighting in Ballymoney following news that it could cost over £100,000 more!

At last month’s Council meeting, members agreed to investigate extending the Festive Lighting Scheme for which £30,000 budgetary provision had been made. Already £63,000 of ratepayers money was spent last year on the festive lighting.

Following discussions members proposed ‘in principle’ to look into additional lighting features into the town, new features at the Joey Dunlop Centre, Meetinghouse Street, Victoria Street and Linenhall Street as well as improvements to the Christmas tree at High Street. However during a recent Full Council meeting, Director Mr John Michael highlighted the costings and technical issues to determine the work ‘if any’ to be tendered.

He continued: ‘The additional festive lighting features have been split into six items: New features into the town. There are eight entrances being considered at an estimated cost of £52,720, although this has not been tendered.

‘The new feature at the Leisure Centre, to include lights on 13 trees, comes to £18,600. Meetinghouse Street, to include trees at the memorial gardens comes to £21,340, improvements to the High Street Christmas tree is £2,380 and a further feature at Linenhall Street is £2,640. Finally, the upgrade of the power supply at Meetinghouse Street and High Street, which needs to be done is £3,900. Unfortunately improvements at Victoria Street is not feasible, unless string lighting across the thoroughfare is used but this causes problems with high vehicles.

‘So excluding the first item, the work comes to £48,860 - there is £30,000 additional funds in the budget. However if this goes ahead, Council needs to budget up to £52,000 additional funds each year.’

In response Ald Bill Kennedy hit out: “This is a ridiculous waste of ratepayers money. £63,000 was spent last year, would it not be better to spend the money of tv advertising or marketing than lighting up the bypass and Leisure Centre which won’t make one iota of difference? I propose we send this back to the Leisure committee.”

Cllr Ian Stevenson disagreed stating: “The Chamber of Commerce are in support of the extra lighting and I thought they would have sent a letter to Council. I suggest we look at it again, there is too much information to make a decision straight away.”

However Mr Michael highlight the timeline adding: “If we don’t go out to tender shortly then we risk nothing being done. We need to got out to tender by September 9 and there needs to be a consultation process before.”

Cllr Tom McKeown agreed with Cllr Stevenson: “I heard reports that the Christmas lights were very effective last year. Even other towns commented on how good they were.”

Concluding Ald Kennedy said: “Yes they were a good set of lights but there’s no need in additional ones.”

Cllr Stevenson proposed that, due to the timeline, the decision be deferred to the Consultation Committee.

However following a vote it was agreed to defer the item back to the Leisure Committee for further discussion.