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New Christmas markets on way for six local towns and festive fun event for special needs children

Additional twilight markets would be held in Richhill, Tandragee, Keady, Dromore, Waringstown and Donaghcloney

An exciting event tailored specifically for children with special needs could form part of the festive plans in the borough this year.

And six more twilight markets for Christmas could also be held at towns within the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area.

Both will be up for the thumbs-up from councillors when they go before the council’s leisure committee meeting tonight (Wednesday).

That will mean approving additional expenditure of £75,000 if council wishes to add them to its Christmas shopping list.

Last year, council delivered a bespoke Christmas event that catered for children with special educational needs which the committee has been told was well received by the public.

It is suggested approving spending of £13,000 to organise a bespoke event, which will mean going out to tender to plan such an occasion.

Meanwhile, £62,000 will be required to add additional twilight marks to the festive line-up.

Council currently funds and delivers three twilight markets in Banbridge, Lurgan and Portadown as part of the annual Christmas light switch-on events.

At the economic committee meeting in March, councilloros asked officers to explore the expansion of the twilight market offering across the borough.

In June, the committee approved a pilot scheme for an additional six twilight markets to be held in Richhill, Tandragee, Keady, Dromore, Waringstown and Donaghcloney, with funding to be sourced from “budget realignment”.

Members at the committee meeting were informed that there was no provision in the current budgets for these additional activities as it had not been included in the budget setting process.

Therefore additional requests for expenditure not included in current budget provision need to be considered by the resources committee.

A report to Wednesday night’s meeting explains the logistics of such a move.

It states: “Council will be required to provide staff to cover the operational services to assist with logistics at each event. Other internal human resource requirements include regeneration officers’ role in the delivery of nine twilight markets in a short period of time and additional communication and design input to lead on the promotion and marketing of each market.

“Road closures will be required where the twilight market is held on the public highway. Street trading licences will also have to be obtained for traders selling products on the evening of the events. The dates and times of each market may conflict with one another thereby the volume of traders selling at each event may be reduced.

“Following consultation with the community organisations that deliver the annual Christmas lights switch-on, the regeneration team will work closely with the community representatives to deliver a twilight market that will add value to the switch-on.

“Initial meetings with the community representatives in the areas have been positive and welcoming to the idea of introducing a twilight market to complement the existing switch-on event.”

The recommendation to committee is to approve the £75,000 needed to organise the bespoke event for children with special needs and six additional twilight markets.

Any decision made will then have to go back to the full council later in the month to be ratified.

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