Christ­mas mar­ket is a non-run­ner

New Ross Standard - - NEWS -

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.

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