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Claus for concern as Christmas lights to set Mid Ulster Council back almost £500,000

Mid Ulster District Council is to replace its Christmas lights in Dungannon, Cookstown, Magherafelt and Maghera town centres, at a cost of around £495,000.

Many of the current lights still have a bit of life in them, however, and the local authority is open to the idea of donating them to villages and community groups.

The matter was discussed at an Environment Committee meeting held on June 11. Committee members were asked to grant delegated powers for the award of a tender for the supply and delivery of the festive lighting.

The tender closed last Monday June 17, and a tender evaluation report will be brought to Mid Ulster District Council’s monthly meeting on June 27.

Cllr Brian McGuigan (Sinn Féin, Carntogher DEA) asked: “In relation to the lights that will be removed, what is the possibility for the like of some of the villages to have access to those lights if they are in fairly good condition?

“A lot of money is required to replace those, and some of the groups or villages simply don’t have that kind of money to replace them. Some of the groups could maybe go through a process to be able to use those.”

Assistant director of Property Services, Terry Scullion, said he was open to the idea: “About the potential re-use of of any lights that are in good condition, I think we can consider that, similar to what we’ve done before around a previous community asset transfer to local groups.

“I suppose it does come with the health warning that the reason why we’re replacing the lights is as a lot of them are at the end of life, but certainly we can consider that, I think.”

Cllr Mark Robinson (DUP, Clogher Valley DEA) was keen to get a breakdown of planned expenditure: “I see the total figure there is just short of £500,000 between the four towns. Is there a breakdown on that or is it sort of done pro rata?”

The senior council officer explained the breakdown would be worked out at a later date: “The £495,000 is the overall figure. There’s not a specific split in terms of the four settlements.

“It’s a provisional sum within the capital programme, and it will be divided out based on the specification for the items for each town. That effectively will determine the split at the tender outcome stage.”

Cllr James Burton (DUP, Dungannon DEA) was keen to see the festive lights provision enhanced in parts of Dungannon: “Just a question on behalf of the traders’ committee. Are you going to be working with them to gauge out where the best place is to put the lights?

“In Dungannon they were thinking maybe there’s some places that were just sort of skimpy enough with lights. Is that something you’re planning to do?”

The assistant director of Property Services replied: “There have been a number of locations in Dungannon that have been identified for additional lights, so that’s been factored into the actual tender exercise that is out at the minute.

“We’re working very closely with the regeneration officers for each of the respective town centres, in terms of lighting installations and so on.

“The locations themselves are largely predetermined by the infrastructures in place to power them, but there’s very close engagement with the regeneration officers there. It was certainly taken on board.”

The recommendation to approve the granting of delegated powers for the award of a tender was proposed by Cllr McGuigan and seconded by Cllr Robinson.

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