Concern raised as Lisburn agrees £130,000 draft budget for Christmas 2021 programme

Lisburn and Castlereagh Council have agreed to spend around £130,000 on their programme of events for the upcoming Christmas period for 2021.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 12:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 12:59 pm
Lisburn and Castlereagh Borough Council celebrate the start of the Christmas period with a festival of light, parade and Santa turning on the Christmas tree light in 2019 (Picture by JPressEye)

At a Leisure and Community Wellbeing Committee meeting on Tuesday night, members agreed a draft programme of events for the festive period.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council said the festivities would focus on local communities, care homes, schools and residents across the district.

However, council officers said that due to Covid-19 that they could ‘not predict with any degree of certainty that restrictions would not be in place later this year’.

As part of the programme, a Magical Light Trail will take place at Lisburn Castle Gardens and will cost the council £65,000, while the Christmas Community ‘Switch On’ will also set the council back an additional £30,000.

Other events such as community outreach shows at schools and care homes, live city centre performances and a continuation of virtual events have also been pencilled in.

Deputy Mayor Jenny Palmer said she was “concerned” about how the council was going to manage socially distanced events.

She added: “The [programme of events] says it’s going to have socially distanced audiences and I am wondering how do we manage that and how do we identify the audiences?

“We used to have tickets allocated and there was an awful mess around all of those allocations and a lot of people from outside [Lisburn] city boundaries were using the allocation to come into the city while locals couldn’t get tickets.

“I am concerned about how we manage that and I would like to know how we plan to do that.”

Council officers said that “lessons had been learned” previously and that they hope to manage any future ticketed events by postcode in order to give priority to those within the council district.

Meanwhile, concerns were also voiced surrounding the amount of events outside of Lisburn.

DUP councillors Nathan Anderson and Sharon Skillen questioned whether events would be scheduled in Carryduff and Dundonald.

Cllr Skillen said: “This is a very comprehensive report and I welcome it but I agree with councillor Anderson when it comes to events outside the city.

“When you look at events like the Magical Lights Trail, could something like this not be done in Moat Park?”

LCCC council officer, Angela McCann, said there was the possibility that the programme could be enhanced in order to ensure that there was an ‘even approach’ across the district.