Council to spread the Christmas cheer

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There was plenty of Christmas cheer in the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council chamber on Tuesday night as Christmas light switch-ons were discussed.

Peter Thompson, Head of Tourism and Recreation, presented two proposals to councillors.

Option One was to replicate Christmas activity carried out within the four cluster councils in 2014.

This would involve ceremonies in Ballymoney, Ballycastle, Limavady, Coleraine, Kilrea, Portstewart, Portrush, Garvagh and Dungiven.

In addition, Limavady previously invited applications for a Council contribution of £250 maximum to smaller villages and hamlets to run their own event.

Option Two would see four main Christmas switch-on ceremonies taking place - Ballymoney 19th November, Limavady 20th November, Coleraine 27th November and Ballycastle 3rd December - at a cost of approximately £14,000.

Cllr Darryl Wilson proposed Option One. “Tt has been tough for business owners over the last few years,” he said.

“One advantage of the Christmas light switch on events is the increased footfall in the towns which hopefully leads to an increase in revenue for the shops and businesses. I don’t think we should limit it to just the four main towns and the cost is insignificant.”

Cllr Ian Stevenson seconded the proposal saying: “I think we would look like Scrooge if we went for Option Two, This will not only help the shops but also help create some Christmas spirit.”

Cllr Trevor Clarke proposed the £250 on offer to community groups in Limavady also be available to villages and hamlets throughout the borough. This was seconded by Kieran Mulholland.

Mr Thompson told council if they were to approve Cllr Clarke’s amendment the cost would rise by approximately £5,000.

Alderman Gerry Mullan said it would be ‘the best £250 the council could spend’.

Councillors agreed it be kept to the 38 towns, villages and hamlets who normally receive a tree from council.

Cllr Richard Holmes asked how much it cost to hold the events in the bigger towns. Mr Thompson revealed it was £8,000 for Coleraine with Ballymoney and Ballycastle coming in at £3,500 each.

Cllr Kieran Mulholland said £250 was a small amount compared to this. His party colleague, Cllr Sean McGlinchey, agreed. Councillors voted in favour of Cllr Clarke’s amendment and it will now be brought back before council at the end of the month.