‘It’s once a year and we can’t be like Scrooge’

Michelle Knight-McQuillan the Mayor of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council with Santa Claus at the Christmas lights switch on in Dungiven on Saturday night. INLV4915-134KDR

Michelle Knight-McQuillan the Mayor of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council with Santa Claus at the Christmas lights switch on in Dungiven on Saturday night. INLV4915-134KDR

Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council will spend almost £50,000 on Christmas festivities, including Santa appearances in towns and villages in the Roe Valley.

The decision to forge ahead with the festive activities was made by councillors at Tuesday’s Leisure and Development Committee, and will go forward to full Council for ratification at the monthly meeting.

Sinn Fein councillor Dermot Nicholl, a member of the committee, believes it’s money worth spending.

“It’s Christmas and it’s only once a year. We can’t be seen to be like Scrooge,” said Colr. Nicholl.

In 2015, council replicated the Christmas festivity provision from 2014, which included a contribution of £250 to smaller villages and hamlets from the Limavady area; Ballykelly, Burnfoot, Drumsurn, Feeny, Foreglen, Greysteel and Magilligan, as part of the legacy Limavady Borough Council arrangements.

Council also agreed they should look at the opportunity to broaden the contribution, by which, smaller towns, villages and hamlets could access funding previously afforded to the Limavady Council area.

A number of “switch-ons” occurred throughout the Causeway borough last year, including Limavady and Dungiven, along with the £250 contribution available to several villages and hamlets. The cost was approximately £25,000.Councillors were offered options for this year’s festivities, ranging in cost from £16,000 to £28,000.

After debate, they decided nine towns, including Dungiven and Limavady, will have a Santa appearance and celebrations at a cost of £4,000 per town. They agreed it was only right funding, capped at £250 per successful application, is available to 55 settlements with a population under 2,500; for example, Ballykelly and Greysteel, costing £13,750. Community groups and associations can apply for the £250 funding. The total cost comes in at £49,750.

Colr. Nicholl acknowledged there are communities in the Roe Valley, within the 55 settlements, without a community association or group. He said it’s up to local representatives in those areas to make sure they’re aware the funding is available.

“I think it’s only fair that smaller settlements get a contribution towards celebrating Christmas, just as the larger towns do,” added Colr. Nicholl. “As I say, it’s Christmas and it’s something we need to look at early next year for Christmas 2017.