£48K LED Christmas trees ‘not the way to go’

A mobile Christmas tree on the move through Limavady. (File photo: Margaret McLaughlin) (FILE PIC)

A mobile Christmas tree on the move through Limavady. (File photo: Margaret McLaughlin) (FILE PIC)

It seems when it comes to the festive season, it’s never too early to talk about Christmas.

Councillors on Causeway Coast and Glens environmental services committee had a lengthy debate about festive lighting across the borough and whether the four major towns, including Limavady should be treated to a new LED tree with the price tag of £12,000 each.

Council officer, Gareth Doyle, told committee members: “The four legacy Councils traditionally erected festive lighting at various centres of population throughout their borough/district.

“There were differences in style, type, layout and quantity. There have also been different approaches to repair, maintenance and renewal which has led to the current situation where there is noticeable variation across the borough in the quality of the presentations.”

Mr Doyle said as part of the proposals there was the option to provide an LED Christmas tree costing £12,000 each in Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady and Ballycastle. He said the LED trees were more durable than real trees, said to last between 12 to 15 years, and would be able to cope with weather conditions in the major towns whose trees been had been blown down and split down the middle. Mr Doyle said plans also included budgets of £55,000 to improve Ballycastle’s festive look, £15,000 for Ballymoney, £15,000 for Bushmills, £22,000 for Coleraine, £1,000 for Garvagh, £12,000 for Limavady for the LED tree, £5,000 for Portrush and £14,000 for Portstewart.

During the festive debate, there was consensus over concerns about LED trees and that people would prefer a more traditional approach, wanting a traditional tree.

DUP Colr. Sam Cole said Christmas was becoming more and more commercialised. He said it would be “a retrograde step” to go with LED trees.

Concerns were raised that if there was to be an LED in tree in Limavady would the local Rotary Club still be able to have its ribbon project, alongside concerns money had not been spent on lighting in Limavady in years.

Sinn Fein Colr. Brenda Chivers also asked about the Rotary project, and said the Council should consult with the local Chamber on the matter.

Colr. Chivers said that it was difficult to tell from pictures what the LED tree would really look like, but said she preferred a real tree.

SDLP Colr. Roisin Loftus said she preferred a traditional Christmas tree.

PUP Colr. Russell Watton said: “I’m not sure about these LED trees.” He said no matter what kind of tree it was Council proposed spending £48,000 on four trees, he didn’t think LED trees “are the way to go”.

UUP councillor Richard Holmes proposed Council go ahead with the plans outlined but without the LED trees and, instead, put the money in reserve and, in the meantime, wait for council officers to bring back a report on the matter and using the money across the borough.

Colr. Holmes’ recommendation was agreed.