Money well spent? £40k splashed out on Ballyclare May Fair

Mayor Thomas Hogg, Alderman Mandy Girvan and Cllr David Arthurs promoting the variety of Food Glorious Food-themed events on offer at this year's May Fair.
Mayor Thomas Hogg, Alderman Mandy Girvan and Cllr David Arthurs promoting the variety of Food Glorious Food-themed events on offer at this year's May Fair.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council has released details of the funding allocated to Ballyclare’s 2016 May Fair, as many local residents continue to criticise this year’s event.

The annual festival, which has seen a number of alterations to its traditional format, commenced on Tuesday (May 24).

There has been a mixed response to the new-look fair, with many local residents taking to social media sites to hit out at the council over the changes.

A council spokesperson said: “The budget agreed for this year’s May Fair was £21,000 with a further £18,000 being secured in sponsorship from the Department of Agricultural and Rural Development and the Ulster Scots Agency to introduce new food and music related events. £4,000 is also raised in additional income from stall-holders and amusements.

“The council makes provision on an annual basis through the annual estimates process for services and programmes that it wishes to deliver in the forthcoming year. The budget provided for the May Fair reflects the content of the programme and the associated costs.”

Responding to complaints that the fair hadn’t been properly promoted, the spokesperson added: “Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council supports an advertising campaign on television, radio, outdoor and social media as well as other forms of PR activity to raise public awareness of the event. The programme reflects traditional and modern activities that local residents have suggested should be part of the May Fair.

“The council sets its annual estimates each year to include budgets for events and festivals. The budgeting process for 2017-18 will commence from September this year.”

The council’s statement was released in response to criticism from local residents about this year’s fair.

Sara Gilmore said: “I’ve grown up with the May Fair and I really can’t get over how disappointing it was this year. The stalls were terrible and there was no atmosphere. I’m glad I didn’t invite any friends this year because I would have been embarrassed. I used to look forward to the fair every year when I was a child. It makes me sad to think that children now won’t know what that feels like. The council don’t care about community spirit and tradition.”

Commenting on May Fair Day (Tuesday), Barbara McCracken added: “The whole day was a shambles. There were no road closures, very few stalls and the car park spaces were being used up. There was no BBC radio roadshow. It is like the council wants it to come to an end altogether.”

• Read related story - Mixed response to new-look Ballyclare May Fair

• Was this council money well spent? Let me know your feelings. Email me at russell.keers@jpress.co.uk