It may still be months away, but the Christmas switch-on is already the talk of one Co Antrim town – for all the wrong reasons.
Residents of Crumlin have reacted angrily after the local council said it would not be paying for the town’s Christmas tree or lights this year.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council previously took the decision to dramatically reduce the number of Christmas trees in the borough from 22 to four in a bid to cut council spending in 2018.
But members agreed to continue having council-funded trees and high profile switch-on events in Antrim, Ballyclare, Glengormley and Randalstown.
On Monday night, the council voted against a motion asking it to reconsider its position and include Crumlin in the Christmas funding pot.
The move has been branded “blatant discrimination” by one elected representative, and dozens of people have taken to social media to vent their frustration.
One person said: “Disgraceful, and they’ve the cheek to ask all the towns and their householders to equally accept their rates increases when not all the towns are being treated equally.”
Another asked: “How can this be an accepted decision? On what grounds? Do people in Crumlin not pay their council rates too? Absolutely disgraceful.”
Sinn Fein councillor Anne Marie Logue, who proposed Monday night’s motion, labelled the move “shameful and wrong”, adding: “It wouldn’t happen in the borough’s other four towns, which will be provided lights, a Christmas tree and insurance by council.”
She said it is now hoped another funder can be found to help save Crumlin’s festive switch-on.
In a statement, the council said it had made £18,000 available and offered existing Christmas tree lights to groups in locations across the borough – including Crumlin – that wished to secure their own trees.
A spokesperson added: “No request has been received to date from Crumlin.”
The council also pointed out that Crumlin Community Group had secured £5,000 under the local authority’s Community Festivals fund, as well as an additional £2,000 from Belfast International Airport towards the costs of the town’s Christmas programme.