Brexit prompts Derry Christmas marketing rethink

A weak pound will be taken into account when promoting Derry Christmas.
A weak pound will be taken into account when promoting Derry Christmas.

Derry City and Strabane District Council may spend more money pushing a ‘Very Derry’ Christmas in Donegal and the Republic this year due to the devaluation of the pound post-Brexit.

SDLP Councillor John Boyle suggested the council needed to be aware of the weak pound in the run up to Christmas as councillors provisionally approved a £186,000 budget for the annual festivities.

In a report to the Council Business and Culture Committee, 50 per cent of a £50,000 marketing budget was allocated locally, 25 per cent for Northern Ireland, 10 per cent for the Republic of Ireland and 10 per cent elsewhere.

But Mr Boyle suggested this should be re-profiled given the advantage of a strong euro, versus the pound.

He said: “One of the things we should be cognizant of is the change in the habits of shoppers, particularly cross-border shoppers, after the Brexit vote, and we should be looking at where the pound is coming up to Christmas.”

A council officer agreed to look at the market allocations saying: “We will be cognizant of the exchange rate.”

At the meeting committee members were provided with details of the full Christmas programme, which will run from November 11 to December 17.

Fifteen thousands pounds will be spent on the annual craft fair, which will take place over November 11-13.

A total of £43,000 will be spent on Christmas lights switch-ons in Derry on November 17 and in Strabane on November 19.

The annual Fashion Fest will also return over November 17-19 with an allocation of £20,000.

The Christmas markets, December 16 - 18, will cost £8,000, while a series of ‘Festive Weekends’ will cost £50,000.

Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Cooper queried the ‘Festive Weekends’ allocation and said more clarity was needed.

Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly also asked if the weekend events were co-ordinated so they didn’t clash with the craft fair and markets.

An officer explained that they were scheduled to take place when no others events were planned to ensure a packed programme.

But Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue expressed concern that the programme ended so long before Christmas.

“I note that everything’s going to be stopping on the 18th,” she said.

“I think some sort of programme needs to be incorporated into the city centre right up to Christmas.”

DUP Alderman David Ramsey welcomed the schedule, saying it’s: ”A very good programme with a pretty restricted budget.”

He requested dialogue with the Executive Office with a view to bringing the ice rink back to the city.

“Would it be possible to tie up with OFMDFM [now the Executive Office] to look at bringing the ice rink back to Ebrington?”