Council rejects Crumlin ‘in darkness’ for Christmas claims

Ballyclare Christmas tree 2017.
Ballyclare Christmas tree 2017.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council has dispelled claims that Crumlin again will be the ‘poor relation’ during the borough’s Christmas switch on events.

Council moved to clarify the situation after rumours circulated on social media over recent days that the Co Antrim town “may remain in darkness” this festive period.

In 2017 councillors voted to dramatically reduce the number of Christmas trees - from 22 to four - in a bid to cut spending. They agreed to high profile switch-on events in Antrim, Ballyclare, Glengormley and Randalstown, with Crumlin the only town in the borough to lose out.

Earlier this year, that decision was revered to each DEA having a council-funded tree and switch on event with Crumlin included.

Community group, Crumlin Deserves Better, held a public meeting on Tuesday (November 19) to discuss the mood in the town surrounding this year’s festive allocation.

Ahead of the meeting, a spokesperson for the group, on social, media, said: “The feeling the town has is that we are being discriminated against again, just as we were last year when out of the five major towns, Antrim, Ballyclare, Randalstown and Glengormley received a total spend of over £270,000.00 in funding for lights, trees, markets, advertising etc (we have all the paperwork and figures) and Crumlin received nothing.”

In a statement issued to the Newtownabbey Times today (Thursday), a spokesperson for the local authority said: “In June 2019 the council agreed to increase the number of Christmas trees and switch on events across the borough from four to seven to ensure that every District Electoral Area is included.

“The new sites approved included Crumlin Leisure Centre. In addition to the provision of a tree and lighting at each location, it was agreed that a ceremony should take place at the three sites at a cost of around £12,000 per area.

“The Crumlin switch on event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, November 30 and will include a variety of free family-themed entertainment including street entertainers, stilt walkers, arts and crafts and a Santa’s Grotto.”

The switch on event is due to take place at Crumlin Leisure Centre on Saturday, November 30. Activities will run between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

Meanwhile, elected members are set to discuss the Christmas lighting issue at the November monthly meeting at Mossley Mill on Monday evening.

The motion, proposed by Cllr Anne Marie Logue, and seconded by her Sinn Fein party colleague, Cllr Michael Goodman, states: “That this council authorises the appropriate officers to source, on loan from other councils, sufficient Christmas lights to ensure that the Main Street in Crumlin is decorated for Christmas 2019. Officers are also authorised to extend the relevant contract for installation to include Crumlin.”