Christmas market is a non-runner
CHRISTMAS STRESS took its toll on councillors during a debate on plans for this year’s Nollaig Christmas festival.
The row erupted over whether or not to hold a Christmas crafts and food market in the town.
District Manager Sinead Casey said the focus of Nollaig New Ross is to attract people to shop local and the promotion of local crafts and produce.
On Saturday, November 18, Santa will arrive on a sleigh from the parish church to The Tholsel. Cllr Willie Fitzharris will turn on the Christmas lights with New Ross Person of the Year Mary Browne.
Afterwards Santa will meet local children and distribute gifts. DJ Paul Kelly will MC the event.
St Michael’s Theatre will show two Christmas movies free of charge to the public, sponsored by New Ross Chamber and Wexford County Council. South East Radio will broadcast live.
On Sunday, December 3, Santa and elves will arrive by boat via the River Barrow to the Boat Club. He will meet local children, distribute gifts and proceed to a disco in the Parish Pump. The Elf on the Shelf will visit and be photographed in various locations throughout the district from November 18 to December 24.
Prizes will be given for correct identification of the location of the smiley elf through social and local media.
Ms Casey said the Chamber is extending the Christmas lights in the town thanks to the generous contributions of local retailers.
A window display competition will run with local schools and clubs. Prizes will be presented to the school or club with the best festive window. Ms Casey said this initiative run by local volunteers, aims to use as many vacant property windows in town as possible.
Local craft workers who wish to sell their crafts to consider participating in pop-up shop for the Christmas period facilitated by Wexford County Council and New Ross Chamber of Commerce.
Ms Casey said a new sound system has been acquired providing festive music for the town centre. She said the lead party organising the festival was the chamber. Vacant buildings in the town centre will be decorated by school pupils and local clubs. She said festive craft fairs are taking place at venues across the district over the coming weeks.
‘ There has been a lot of misinformation and rumours circulating about Christmas markets. A proposal was sent in a month ago to bring a Christmas market to the town. It was considered upside down and inside out with the chamber. It would have involved a marquee, lights and event management. Stall holders or traders would be set up in a location in town over a weekend before Christmas.’
She said it would have cost €15,000. ‘It’s a lovely idea but retailers from outside the town would come here on the weekend of December 16. In fairness to the rate payers operating in the town the proposal was deferred until next year for further consideration. I want to put these rumours and misinformation to bed; it’s not going to happen.’
Council officials will meet the event organisers in the spring and discuss the possibility of having a market in the town next year.
‘As long as it’s fair and equitable to all retailers in the town, that will be the basis for our discussions.’
Cllr Michael Whelan said he agreed with the district manager. ‘I don’t think it’s a great idea to bring in outside traders to compete with loal businesses. Were these proposals brought here before they were even considered.
Cllr Michael Sheehan said: ‘I agree. We should do everything we can to promote New Ross.’
He said the proposal was sent into New Ross Chamber of Commerce on June 9th ‘and nothing happened with it since’.
‘It has been investigated and it was decided that this is not going to go ahead but the proposal was not to displace any rate payers. It was a proposal to bring up to 20,000 people to the area. The proposal should be coming here first rather than coming to other sections.’
Cllr Sheehan said money would have been available to hold the market, adding that between 40 and 50 local traders could have been accommodated in the market. ‘Wexford have a huge winter festival, as does Waterford and Kilkenny. We are caught in the middle where we don’t have anything major. We should be prioritising that and give festivals three years to see if they work and bring a significant amount of people in.’
Cathaoirleach Cllr Willie Fitzharris said he was amazed that the incorrect procedures were followed.
‘I would be totally against bringing in outside traders. People come into town to do their Christmas shopping. There have only so much in their pocket. If they are going into a festival they will be spending their money there.’
Cllr John Fleming the council is looking at increasing rates so the possibility of holding an event needs to be researched.
Cllr Larry O’Brien said: ‘I would hate to be giving away money to outside traders.’
Ms Casey said: ‘ This proposal was brought forward and there wasn’t enough information to give to the councillors and there wasn’t enough consideration given to that proposal at the time. We will do further research as we also don’t know the quality of the product and that will be researched.’
Cllr Fitzharris said the proposal went through the wrong channels, adding that the chamber of commerce are the best organisation to deal with such a proposal.
Cllr Whelan suggested that the market could be discussed at the next meeting with the chamber, which was agreed.