Belfast Telegraph

Trader to rescue as Castlereagh Borough Council votes not to erect Christmas tree for eighth year in row

By Rebecca Black

A big-hearted restaurateur has come to the rescue after a town was denied a Christmas tree by its local council for the eighth year in a row.

Most towns across Northern Ireland are currently twinkling with towering Christmas trees bringing festive cheer as the shops draw in the shoppers.

Most towns but Carryduff.

Last year the Belfast Telegraph revealed how the Co Down town was left in the dark because Castlereagh Borough Council refused to give it a Christmas tree.

Instead a tree was placed at Lough Moss leisure centre outside the town - seen by far fewer people than the numbers who are drawn by the shopping district and scores of commuters driving home each evening.

Previously the tree had been placed at the shopping centre in the heart of Carryduff where it was enjoyed by far more people.

DUP councillor Myreve Chambers led the opposition because of a fall-out with local traders.

Alliance councillor Geraldine Rice described the town centre last year as "desolate" and said the whole community had been left feeling sidelined.

Her attempt to secure even a few Christmas lights was also rejected, with officials claiming it would take six months to install them.

Ms Rice, along with Ulster Unionist councillor Michael Henderson, pushed to ensure that in 2014 a Christmas tree would light up the town centre.

Ms Rice revealed that despite every councillor except Ms Chambers voting for this proposal, the tree is again at the leisure centre and local people have again been left furious.

"After last year I had proposed that Carryduff would get a Christmas tree and it was meant to come back to council, but it didn't actually come back to council," she said.

"It was apparently decided by a committee and I am going to be absolutely honest, I don't even know who was on the committee.

"The Carryduff people were furious, but we got our Christmas in the end, just not from the council.

"Trevor from Eight South restaurant put one up because he is very passionate about the community as well."

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