“There is nothing that engages the public and councillors more than toilets, dogs and Christmas lights.”
Cllr Cara McShane’s words were proven true at Monday night’s meeting of Moyle District Council.
Members were asked to debate how £15,000, which has been set aside for Christmas lights in the District, would be allocated.
Three options were given to the councillors to debate:
1. £5,000 each to the largest towns in Moyle - Ballycastle, Bushmills and Cushendall.
2. £5,000 to be split evenly between all the towns and villages in each of the three wards in Moyle - Ballycastle, The Glens and The Causeway.
3. A greater amount to the largest towns and a smaller amount to the rest e.g. in the Ballycastle ward: £3,500 to Ballycastle, £500 each to Rathlin, Ballintoy and Ballyvoy. In The Glens: £3,500 to Cushendall and £500 each to Armoy, Cushendun and Waterfoot and finally in The Causeway: £3,500 to Bushmills and £500 each to Liscolman, Lisnagunagh and Mosside.
Aidan McPeak from Technical Services told Council that upgraded decorations or a 100 metre string of basic lights could be bought for £500.
Chairing the meeting, Cllr Donal Cunningham said that he appreciated that Technical Services were trying to be as fair as possible.
Cllr Margaret Anne McKillop said that she was concerned about Cushendall as traders there were planning to decorate another two streets because they were under the impression they were getting £5,000 to spend on lights.
“It is unfair that we decided to give the three places £5,000 and they are now in the process of spending it,” she said.
Cllr Cunningham asked if there was any way of measuring what the uptake would be as perhaps some areas might not want lights.
“We don’t want to undo work that is already under way but it is going to be a very difficult decision.
“Does every village want lights?” he asked.
Cllr Colum Thompson said that it still wasn’t so close to Christmas that there wasn’t time to find out who actually wants funding for lights.
“Once everyone has said yea or nay then we can come back to this and make a decision,” he said.
Cllr Robert McIlroy said he was under the impression that Council had a policy to fund lights for the three main centres in the District.
“If we are going to change that then surely we have to rescind the minutes and come up with a new policy. It’s wrong of this Council to make decisions and then out of the blue say - no, it’s another way.”