Proposed festive lighting enhancement won’t be ready for ‘switch-on’

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Ballymoney Borough Council has agreed to explore further the proposal to enhance the Christmas lighting in the town - despite the work not being ready for the ‘big switch-on on November 20’..

During a recent meeting members voted to include additional lighting at Victoria Street, Meetinghouse Street, Castlecroft and the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre.

The report explained: ‘The undernoted information was presented to members at the Council’s meeting on 4th August: New Features at `Entrances’ to Town - £52,720 including features at Newbridge, Portrush, Knock, Kirk, Kilraughts, Ballymena, Garryduff, Milltown Roads – not feasible at Balnamore or Seacon Roads

‘New Features at JDLC - £18,600, New Features at Meetinghouse Street - £21,340, New Features at Linenhall Street - £2,640, Additional lights – High Street Christmas Tree - £2,380, Essential power supply upgrade at High and Meetinghouse Streets - £13,900, Additional Features at Victoria Street – not feasible with extant infrastructure. Total: £101,580. In response Council referred this matter back to Committee.’

The report continued: ‘At the meeting on 4th August a member mentioned providing additional lighting at Castlecroft. If by Castlecroft the member was referring to the land and structure owned by Council the festive lighting scheme of 2013 was extended to incorporate this area. It would not be appropriate for Council to erect festive lights on private land.

‘Whilst the cost of installation for 2014 is included in the above estimates members should note that were all of the elements listed to be incorporated in an enhanced scheme for Ballymoney the budget for 2015 and successive years would increase from the present cost allowed (2014/15) of £30,000 to at least £54,880. Were item 1 only to be excluded from any revised scheme then the annual revenue budget required each year in respect of on-going installation costs would be £52,160.

‘Members should note that correspondence (dated 20th August) has been received from Ballymoney Chamber of Commerce advising that the Chamber has had representations from traders for “additional lighting features in Victoria Street, on trees at Meetinghouse Street and extension of the lighting features into Castlecroft Square…”

‘It should also be noted, that as has been intimated by the Director, given that the `switch on’ for this year is to take place on 20th November it is perhaps unrealistic to expect that any enhancement Council might now decide on could be realised in the time now available. It was recommended that Committee reconsiders this business and return to it by Council.’

Cllr Ian Stevenson recorded his view that it had been an arduous process in bringing this initiative forward for discussion. Cllr Philip McGuigan expressed the view that the report should be noted.

Members discussed the options and agreed that option 1 was not feasible but options 2-6 should be considered. Reiterating the Director’s comments with regard to the timescale involved in purchasing new features and carrying out work to undertake any new installation, the Head of Amenities advised that it is unlikely that the additional work can be carried out before 20th November.

Members expressed the view that enhancement of the lights at Meetinghouse Street, Victoria Street and Castlecroft should be explored further along with an upgrade to the lights at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre. Based on the above budget figures, Alderman Bill Kennedy suggested a cap of £25,000 for purchase of additional lighting.

It was proposed by Cllr Ian Stevenson, seconded by Cllr John Finlay that options 2-6 be explored and that a report on an enhanced lighting scheme to include additional lighting at Victoria Street, Meetinghouse street, Castlecroft and the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre, be brought to the next meeting of Committee.

A vote was taken with seven members voting in favour and two members voting against.

The Chair declared the motion carried.

Cllr McGuigan recorded his disagreement with the decision and reiterated his view that additional Christmas lighting is a waste of ratepayer’s money and does not extend to any of the rural villages within the borough of Ballymoney.