Fairy lights plan causing concern

COUNCILLORS are pushing for fairy lights to be put on all the trees at Ballycastle seafront even though a Council officer said it could cost almost £8,000 to maintain lights on a tree which is taller than the others, writes Nevin Farrell.

Moyle Council’s Head of Technical Services, Aidan McPeake, suggested putting floodlights at the bottom of the large tree instead of having to pay to bring in a crane to maintain the bulbs on the tree.

But councillors including Ulster Unionist Helen Harding and Independent Padraig McShane, fear any floodlit uplighters will be prone to vandalism and they want to see all the trees lit up with fairy lights.

The fairy light plan is aimed at lighting up the seafront area of Ballycastle and making it a more attractive place to walk for both locals and visitors.

Cllr Harding said she was not happy the biggest tree faced not having fairy lights.

Aidan McPeake said the original plan was to put fairy lights on 16 trees and he said a crane would have to be hired in to maintain and change the bulbs on the large tree and he said a floodlight would give the same lighting effect and he estimated the work could cost £7,800.

Cllr Harding said: “I would be against the floodlighting because of vandalism - there has been vandalism in that area.”

Cllr Padraig McShane said he was not sure about an assessment that the tree in question is 15 metres high and he reckoned it is only about two-and-a-half-feet higher than the surrounding trees.

He said fairy lights on the trees will make a “spectacular presentation” at the seafront.

He said the £7,800 was a “scary figure” but he said the seafront scheme attracts 50 per cent funding.

Cllr McShane was told by Mr McPeake the estimated price of the tender for the wider Ballycastle seafront scheme was originally £550,000 but it was now coming in at £440,000.

The councillor said that meant there would be money left over then and he said he would like to see all the money spent on the area adding: “These monies will not come along every two minutes.”

The councillor also wants to see uplighters put on the bridges over the Margy in Ballycastle.

DUP councillor Robert McIlroy said his party grouping had no details of the matter under discussion in their council minutes and he said he would like to get more information before a decision is taken.

The Council agreed to defer making a decision so that all councillors are aware of the full details.