Damage to Christmas lights costs £50,000

Damage to festive illuminations across Derry and Strabane during the 2021 Christmas season cost almost £50,000.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 16th May 2022, 3:21 pm

The matter was discussed at a recent monthly meeting of the local Council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee which approved additional money to cover the costs associated with damage to a number of trees and illuminations across the city and district.

Conor Canning, Head of Environment with Derry City and Strabane District Council, outlined how the local authority had invested significantly over the years in its festive lighting scheme.

He said there had been a hugely positive response to the illuminations, in particular the artificial trees erected in Derry city centre, Ebrington, Strabane town centre and Sion Mills.

An illuminated reindeer at Guildhall Square was vandalised on a number of occasions.

He said it was unfortunate, however, that, in the countdown to Christmas 2021, there were several reported instances of vandalism to trees across the Council area, in particular the trees in Derry’s Guildhall Square and Waterloo Place which were targeted on a number of occasions.

He said repair work on the trees had been carried out with the total cost amounting to almost £50,000.

He said that, whilst vandalism attacks have taken place in previous years, the frequency and scale of the incidents over the most recent festive period resulted in additional costs to Council that had not been included in the original allocated budget.

Mr Canning said that, as part of its planning for this year’s Christmas illuminations, Council was looking at a number of ways to improve designs and incorporate additional preventable measures going forward.

A gingerbread man in Castlederg was vandalised.

Elected members at the meeting expressed their shock and disappointment at the acts of vandalism and condemned the attacks, saying it was important the public was informed of the impact and cost the vandalism was having on ratepayers.

The Chair of the Committee, Councillor Ruairi McHugh, said: “I am extremely shocked at the scale and cost of vandalism of our hugely popular Christmas lights. By making these costs public, I hope it will deter incidents in the years ahead and encourage people to report acts of vandalism to the relevant authorities.”

Colr McHugh also paid tribute to Council staff across the district involved in the Christmas illuminations programme.