Town market scrapped for ‘cafe culture’

Lurgan Town Centre with the new Plaza Area, War Memorial and Shankill Parish Church. INLM4311-109gc
Lurgan Town Centre with the new Plaza Area, War Memorial and Shankill Parish Church. INLM4311-109gc
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LURGAN market plans have been scrapped this year and cash allocated towards setting it up have been redirected to promoting other events including ‘the strong cafe culture’.

Despite calls that a market should be set up ‘pronto’, Craigavon Borough Council has decided to abandon even a Christmas market for Lurgan this year.

Plans for a one-off market for Lurgan in September were lambasted by some councillors who saw the £20,000 bill too exorbitant.

Councillors felt that a more long-term strategy should be considered.

A spokesperson for Craigavon Council said: “A one-off market event was discussed. However members decided that such an event would be more appropriate as a launch event to the longer term market when it is subsequently set up.

“The monies that were proposed against that market event are being redirected into two alternative spring events in 2013. These will include a mix of activity to help increase cultural tourism; increase utilization of vacant units; showcase the independent retail offering and promote the strong cafe culture.

“In addition, members are committed to and discussing having a viable market in Lurgan however no firm decision has been taken at this time and no budget has been allocated yet.”

The spokesperson said that originally it was anticipated the market would require £20,000. “The monies for the spring events will be ratified by Council on Monday night.

“In addition, Members are committed to and discussing having a viable market in Lurgan however no firm decision has been taken at this time and no budget has been allocated yet. It was decided the one-off market would be better postponed to act as a launch event for the sustainable Lurgan Market.”

The Council spokesperson said there is a Department of Social Development funded market taking place in Portadown on December 14 and 15.

Lurgan will have the Christmas Lights Switch on November 23 in the town centre plaza with family fun days on the three Saturdays before Christmas. Plans are also under way for the return of Santa’s Grotto.

Last May DUP Cllr Stephen Moutray demanded the reinstatement of Lurgan Market as a matter of urgency.

And at another meeting councillors told council officials to go back to the drawing board after it was revealed a one-off market for Lurgan was going to cost £20,000.

Councillor Liam Mackle said he was very supportive of a regular market for Lurgan but he could not see how a one-day fair could cost £20,000 or how it would translate into a weekly market.

The council’s Director of Development Ms Olga Murtagh told councillors that following feedback from a food and craft fair in Portadown, it was felt that a similar one could be organised for Lurgan as a sort of pilot scheme and that Lurgan Chamber of Commerce was eager for this.

Ulster Unionist councillor George Savage said there was no call for ‘half of that’ and said he didn’t want people to think the council was a ‘soft touch’ when it came to money.

He said the costings needed to be reduced and get them ‘into the real world’.

It was decided that an all-party group could meet officers to give them clear guidance on what the council wanted.