‘Daft’ law could thwart Xmas lights switch on

The Christmas tree in Tandragee. INPT50-243.
The Christmas tree in Tandragee. INPT50-243.

New legislation from Stormont which could lead to Christmas lights festivals being cancelled in small towns, has been branded ‘daft’.

Independent Cllr Paul Berry described it as ‘daft legislation and that Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council has been forced to ‘try and pick up the pieces’

The Council is to waive their fee for this year’s Christmas Lights ceremony but he believes many small towns will have no switch on as roads will have to be closed.

“In Tandragee the organisers may not organise it this year and I have had vibes from other communities who have indicated the same. I think this is detrimental to our communities because we have something of a festive nature which brings everybody together.

“If you are forking out £1k on traffic management costs there will be no children getting selection boxes. The Festive season in the small towns is going to be nil. It is a crazy system to go through. The lights will be out as there will be no switch-ons.”

He called for a special meeting to discuss this issue which was seconded by Cllr Jim Speers. He said the legislation was ‘using a sledgehammer to crack a nut’ and urged representation to the Assembly to revisit this issue. “It’s madness and ordinary people think council did this when in fact it was the Assembly.”

Chief Executive Roger Wilson said: “There is a fair point being made about the road closure orders.”

DUP Cllr Mark Baxter said he was involved in helping organise the lights switch on in Donaghcloney but they didn’t close the road. “This has huge implications,” he said. He suggested if council were willing for fork out £1700 to groups in order to help them close the road, more groups will apply for it and there would be a financial implication.”