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‘Scrooge’ Council slammed for not helping out with Christmas lights

August 16th, 2022 7:05 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Scrooge McDuck (Photo: Shutterstock)

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CORK County Council is being accused of acting like Scrooge by refusing to help with the erection of Christmas lights in West Cork towns.

Frustrated business owners say that the Council is putting  the issue back on already cash-strapped companies to organise the lights themselves, while some fear they may have to scale back on some displays, or have none at all.

Politicians have also called on the Council to ‘rethink’ the decision to withdraw from erecting and taking down lights.

While this move was flagged late last year, many business owners say that they will have to cover the costs of maintaining lights, storing them and paying insurance, as well as employing people to put them up and take them down, and also implementing traffic management plans.

Clonakilty Chamber member-director and owner of Bella Donna boutique, Oonagh Croke-O’Donoghue said now Chamber members will have to pay for the lights.

‘It costs €25,000 to get the lights up and down and that includes storage. We did receive a grant of €10,000 but the lights cost way more than that,’ said Oonagh. ‘It shouldn’t be put back onto the community who are already just about getting through after Covid. It’s a Council issue and my understanding of rates was that they are  for the upkeep of the town – but the Council are not playing ball with it. Where does it stop?’

Oonagh said they will need to raise about €15,000 for their Christmas lights and said with items getting more expensive each year it could be a struggle. She said it cost €4,000 to replace lightbulbs last year.

‘Some businesses are barely surviving, their rates are still the same and you can’t be going around constantly tapping people for money.

‘But if we don’t fundraise, we just won’t have the lights, which will be a real disappointment.’

‘Clonakilty is a great town and community and we need every business to help out with this.’ continued Oonagh.

Business owner and co-chair of Skibbereen and  District Chamber of Commerce Helen Dempsey said they nearly didn’t have Christmas lights last year after only receiving four weeks’ notice from the Council of their decision to pull out.

‘We bought our own lights a few years ago but the grant of €10,000 will not go far, as Christmas lights are terribly expensive and we have the cabin on the bridge too, which has to be decorated,’ Helen told The Southern Star.

‘We’re grateful for the grant, but for all the rates we pay they should be able to fund us better. They did store our lights last year, but we aren’t sure what is happening this year.’

She said it’s all about bringing business to Skibbereen which will benefit everyone and is encouraging more businesses to join the Chamber.

TD Christopher O’Sullivan called on the Council to rethink its decision and said €10,000 isn’t enough.

Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) said it seems that the Council is ‘absolving themselves’ of many of their responsibilities and putting more back on communities.

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