Councillors fume over Jubilee beacon

IT will cost almost £4,000 to erect and light a beacon in Banbridge in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee this June, it has emerged.

While the beacon itself will be funded through PEACE III, the cost of “managing” the fire will amount to £3,800, councillors were told at last week’s meeting.

Some local representatives voiced their concerns at the cost, with UUP councillor John Hanna expressing his disappointment that the council is having to “pay through the nose” for the beacon, which will be lit at the Outlet. He added, “I hope it’s not a damp squib.”

During January’s Leisure and Development Committee meeting, the DUP’s Junior McCrum asked why council staff could not tend to the beacon, rather than employing staff from Groundwork NI.

But he was told the council’s insurers as well as a Health and Safety Officer had advised there was no option but to use staff from Groundwork NI - a body which “focuses on delivering practical community-led regeneration projects in disadvantaged communities”.

SDLP councillor Seamus Doyle raised concerns at the rationale behind the cost.

The Director of Community and Enterprise explained that the money will go towards a site visit with regard to health and safety, a risk assessment as well as setting up the beacon and filling it, erecting fencing around the area and dismantling the beacon and cleaning the area afterwards.