Officials to decide on Xmas tree on South Promenade

Officials to decide on Xmas tree on South Promenade

18 November 2020

LOCAL politicians were expected to be told last night if a Christmas tree will be provided at Newcastle’s South Promenade this year.

Members of Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee were due to be provided with details about the number of sustainable and artificial Christmas trees and lights which will be provided across the district.

Mournes councillor Willie Clarke has appealed to council officials to provide a small Christmas tree at Newcastle’s South Promenade, while an additional request has been made for festive lighting at the English Street area in Downpatrick.

Two options are on the table for a tree in Newcastle. 

The first is a five metre cut tree close to a public toilet block at a cost of £2,585 with £300 annual running costs, while the second is for a five metre high sustainable tree at the same location at a cost of £2,700, with the same yearly running costs.

Several years ago, a community group planted a tree near the harbour, but it did not survive, with local authority officials suggesting that it could have been due to the sea air environment.

Council officials have set aside an annual budget of £135,000 for the testing, repair, erection and removal of festive illuminations across the district and £35,000 to purchase Christmas trees.

Cllr Clarke said the local authority’s sustainable Christmas tree initiative had been a tremendous success with communities buying into what the organisation is trying to achieve — sustainability and reducing the number of trees that are being cut on a yearly basis which, in the long term, will produce savings for the council.

Cllr Clarke said his preference was for a sustainable Christmas tree at South Promenade and hoped that one will be provided. He has argued that the resort’s harbour area has been neglected at Christmas.

Across the district, there will be artificial Christmas trees erected by the local authority in Downpatrick and Newcastle, while a sustainable Christmas tree will be erected in Ballynahinch.

The tree that will be erected in the market town is one of 11 which have been sourced from local forests, while 16 sustainable trees that will be erected in a number of towns and villages have been purchases from a nursery in Italy. 

Ten of these trees will replace those planted in previous years which have not survived, while councillors hoped to be told last night how the local authority is going to organise ceremonies to switch on tree lights and other festive illuminations across the district given the current coronavirus restrictions.

Members of the Neighbourhood Services Committee have also been told that a contractor has been appointed to erect, test and repair festive lighting displays across the district and will also be responsible for taking them down in the New Year.