Chamber resolves issues over Christmas lights

Following issues raised about the erection of Cashel’s new Christmas lights, last week, President of the Cashel Chamber of Commerce, Sean Laffey, has explained the situation.

Following issues raised about the erection of Cashel’s new Christmas lights, last week, President of the Cashel Chamber of Commerce, Sean Laffey, has explained the situation.

“As a Chamber we are sensitive of the issues, which refer to the inconvenience, disturbance, dispute and disruption which were allegedly caused by the actions of the electrical company who won the tender for the new Christmas lights in the town.

“The tender was advertised on July 17, 2012, nationally. Part of the brief was that the successful contractor should be mindful of the heritage nature of the town. Tenders were presented to the Cashel Town Council engineering section for their comments and then passed on to the South Tipperary Development Company who administer the LEADER grant for the work.

“The successful tender was then passed to national government in Dublin to sanction the work. The winning bidder was chosen on a number of criteria including paperwork, the latter being extremely important, as without the relevant documentation LEADER funding would not be forthcoming. The winning contractor met all the funding criteria and was fully aware of the implications and restrictions of the detailed tender contract.

“The contractor who was subsequently engaged is a County Tipperary based specialist Christmas lights erector and we were assured by him that he also has the contract to install seasonal lighting in Tipperary Town and at the Waterford Winterval Festival. He was proactive and positive about his plans for the town, approaching the Chamber in the winter of 2012 with his ideas for the project. We took all these as indications of his enthusiasm for the work and his bona fides.

“The work has not been hassle free, and in fairness you’d expect a few glitches in a project of this size and complexity. The lighting itself is new, but so too is the infrastructure, which accounts for a large proportion of the budget. In order to cause the minimum disruption to business and life in town the contractor insisted that the installation should be carried out at night. The contractor sought permission, via the Chamber to drill holes for the new catenary wiring in a number of properties, and the Chamber, acting in good faith, cleared those requests with the relevant property owners, and where permission was not granted, the contractor was informed verbally of the situation.

“However, despite several requests from the Chamber to the contractor he was not able to provide a full list of properties, due to technical difficulties with some parts of the installation. Our understanding was that he would approach owners on a professional ad hoc basis. If, as it has been suggested holes were drilled in specific properties without prior consultation with the owners, we can assure you this was done so without the authorization of the Chamber.

“We are aware of a situation that took place at the Main Street home of Cllr Wood, and I personally called Tom Wood minutes after the said incident to find out what, in his opinion, had occurred. It is not for me to elaborate on Cllr Wood’s behalf, other than to say the dispute caused himself and his wife much distress. However, between that event and the Town Council meeting of Monday, December 3, no councillors approached the Chamber for any information or an explanation, which we would have been more than willing to have given to them.

“We also met on Monday, December 3, a number of property owners who had issues about unauthorised drilling in their premises, which we communicated to the contractor, and which were swiftly resolved to a point where the owners agreed to leave the new lighting in place, provided that any surplus holes were made good. We can also assure your readers that under the terms of the Tender, the work of the contactor is subject to independent third party inspection, especially so should an issue arise over the quality, safety or integrity of the works carried out.

We are grateful to Cllr Quinlan for his kind words of support for the voluntary effort put in by members the Chamber, which is literally hundreds of hours of unpaid work, the purpose of which is solely to improve the ambience of the town at Christmas. Anyone who has seen the new lights will tell you what a huge improvement they are on previous year’s lighting stock. I’d like to thank everyone personally for their time and effort in getting this project through to its final stage .

“We also thank the councillors for their pro-business and pro-Cashel decision to sanction free parking at Main Street Car Park and Friar Street Car Park on the three Saturdays before Christmas). This would be very helpful in the context of the Cashel Winter Wonderland project, which is promoting on street entrainment, late night shopping, a new set of Christmas lights and the re-invigoration of Friar Street during each weekend leading up to Christmas. All of which is a key part of the LEADER funded Cashel Winter Wonderland project. The town’s retailers are doing their very best, in very difficult times, to ensure excellent access to their facilities in the run up to Christmas, with late night shopping in many premises from December 13 onwards. We encourage as many people as possible to visit the town of an evening and see the new Christmas lights and hope they will enjoy all that Cashel has to offer.

“The Cashel Chamber of Commerce acknowledges the vital monetary support from the South Tipperary Development Company, The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, The EU and the Cashel Urban Council in this major infrastructure and community event programme.”