Ards and North Down Council is to assess how a new law regarding special events on roads could affect some of the area's most popular gatherings.
At the recent Ards and North Down Council Environment Committee meeting I decided to tackle the issue after concerns raised around the future of a number of events such Holywood May Fair Maypole dancing and races including Ards Half Marathon where the new obligations played a role in decision to cancel the event in 2018.
The new law means it is up to the relevant authority to authorise and approve the use of roads for events with significant costs arising thereby putting key local events into jeopardy.
As a local Council it is our responsibility to safeguard our must-loved local events, promote active living and encouraging charitable fundraising. Whilst May Pole dancing for the Holywood May Fair was given a temporary reprieve this year via a last minute compromise we need to find a fairer and more sustainable way forward. With other Councils such as Derry City and Strabane and Mid and East Antrim levying no charge for small or community events I feel it's apt we review matters locally in Ards and North Down.
The roll out of this new law has been confusing to say the least, and I welcome the support from fellow Councillors to ensure we are in possession of all the facts and able to plan a sensible way forward one year after the legislation came into effect from 3 September 2017 after the previous Minister for Infrastructure Chris Hazzard decided to proceed regardless of concerns raised thereby passing the problem onto Council and creating real issues for local community and sporting groups.