Councillors attending the monthly full meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council on Tuesday 27th October were presented with four distinct options for the borough’s annual Christmas celebrations.
Option one was simply a continuation of the 2014 celebrations in the four legacy council areas.
Option two was to have events in all 60 settlements within the borough, every hamlet, village and town.
Option three was to have events in the boroughs Towns and Villages, not for hamlets.
Option four was to restrict events to the four main towns of Coleraine, Ballymoney, Limavady and Ballycastle.
The Council officer who presented these options to Councillors recommended that options 2 and 3 were dismissed as they would prove too costly and would be very difficult to arrange.
A number of councillors had problems with the options presented, many of them very similar, notably the late timing, with less than a month to go before the borough’s Christmas programme begins.
Deputy Mayor Cllr Darryl Wilson was one of those to question the timing, stating that options 2 and 3 may have been less challenging if this matter had been brought up earlier in the year. Cllr Wilson found option 1 most favourable, but asked that this matter be reviewed again next year,
Alderman John Finlay also expressed concern about the timing of this presentation and reluctantly backed option 1, while expressing concerns about villages such as Cloughmills being left out.
Cllr Padraig McShane laid the blame for the difficulty of funding options 2 and 3 on the “populist” low rates and said that councillors must “get real” when faced with tough decisions.
Sinn Fein’s Cllr Cara McShane opted for option 2, stating that while not every village and hamlet in the borough would take up the option to have their own Christmas events, they should be given the opportunity to do so.
Points were raised about the economic benefits that increased spending might bring, Cllr Wilson responded to these points by agreeing that there could be economic benefits, but, ultimately, Christmas is about giving without receiving and that all the towns, villages and hamlets of Causeway Coast and Glens should be given the chance to indulge in spreading Christmas Cheer.
In the end, Council opted for option one, the replication of the 2014 programmes. This option was passed by a vote of 28 for and 7 against