£20,000 one-day market too pricey

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

THE exorbitant cost of £20,000 for a one-day market in Lurgan has been universally lambasted by councillors who demanded council officials go back to the drawing board.

Sinn Fein Councillor Liam Mackle was the first to question the proposal querying how a market opening for only one day could cost so much.

Councillor 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.

Sinn Fein Councillor Johnny McGibbon voiced concern that he had only received notice of the proposal an hour before the meeting. He quizzed council staff on the breakdown of the £20,000 proposed spend querying what the £7,000 for infrastructure was for.

The Development Director explained that it was for a marquee for Lurgan plaza.

She further explained that the budget for this came from Environmental Services (£2,000); Development Department’s Event budget (£11,000); and Economic Development budget (£7,000).

Councillor McGibbon said that while he was sure such a market could be a success, he was not convinced that it would kick start a regular market. He was concerned that there was not a lot of time to discuss the matter given the large sum of money concerned.

Ulster Unionist councillor Meta Crozier also voiced concern at the large amount of cash set aside for this. She said she could not understand some of the spending ideas particularly £460 on a jazz band. She emphasised that she was eager for a long term approach to create a regular market for the town.

Director of Environmental Services Lorraine Crawford said she anticipated a regular market for Lurgan and that she had hoped this September market would kick start the process.

She added there was research going on into Manchester market and issues about terms and conditions.

DUP Councillor Alan Carson said he agreed with a lot of what was being said. “£5,000 event promotion for one day - that is substantial,” he said.

He added that lessons needed to be learned from Portadown as many local traders had not even been allowed to trade in the marquee. He urged another look at the costings.

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.

Breakdown of costs for a proposed one-day market in Lurgan

Room Hire £400

Event Promotion (radio, newspapers,  flyer, event banner) £5,000

Entertainer – walkabout eg Tilda Tigerbalm £340

Entertainer – walkabout  eg Lady Alexandra £600

Music – Jazz Band £460

Good Food NI Kitchen – food demos & tasting utilizing ingredients from local shops £1,000

Infrastructure £7,000

Electrician £400

Event Production Services £3,000

First Aid £150

Face painters £650

Glitter Artist £500

Street theatre  e.g. Grant Goldie £500

Total £20,000