There may still be six months to go to Christmas, but Cork County Council is already thinking of providing towns with a festive treat.
Cllr Gerard “Santa” Murphy (FG) received widespread backing from other councillors when he asked officials to look at using the council’s Economic Development Fund (EDF) to finance Christmas lighting in towns and large villages throughout the county.
The EDF was set up by the council a couple of years ago to promote economic development. This funding is garnered from 1% of the rates income the county council receives every year.
Prior to their disbanding, a number of town councils provided some grants to towns to help them put up Christmas lights.
The rest of the cost was normally met by local businesses.
However, it was only town councils which did this and towns which were controlled by the county council didn’t, up to now, receive a grant from the local authority.
However, that’s about to change.
Mr Murphy said the old system of funding was unfair because businesses in town council-controlled areas traditionally paid lower rates than their counterparts in the county council-controlled areas.
He said that an equitable grant-aid system should be introduced across the entire county for Christmas lighting.
“We need to support our businesses to keep people shopping locally. What’s taken in during the Christmas season can make or break a business and this is one way we can help rate payers,” Mr Murphy said.
Cllr Dan Joe Fitzgerald (FF) agreed with his sentiments and proposed that the idea should be teased out quickly by one of the council’s Special Purposes Committees (SPC).
Cllr Kevin Murphy seconded the move.
“I think it a very appropriate motion. Let’s look into this as soon as possible,” Mr Murphy said.
“It’s a very creative motion. Christmas lighting is a huge attraction to towns,” Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said.
She added that in her home town of Bantry the town council together with businesses had put on a great display of lights every Christmas.
Mayor of County Cork Alan Coleman said it was important that the council moved to ensure that the money was made available in its budget which will be adopted in early December.
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