Money to Burn: Rates spent on bonfire pallets scandal

The Irish News ran a front page story on Saturday in which it was revealed that Antrim Borough Council had breached its own guidelines for successive years in order to fund the purchase of pallets for loyalist bonfires to the tune of more than £6,300 across the borough in 2013 and 2014.

The story featured on today’s BBC Radio Ulster Nolan Show, when UUP Councillor Drew Ritchie defended the expenditure as “money well spent” on “a traditional part of any bonfire”- even though the Council had stated it was “made in error.”

The full list of items funded is quite revealing, and includes thousands of pounds given to loyalist flute bands to apparently play music at the bonfires, as well as a remarkable £650 spent on a facepainter in Monkstown in 2014- in spite of every other bonfire, including Monkstown the previous year, paying out in between £100 and £300 on facepainting…….

Of the 14 Newtownabbey bonfires receiving funding over the two years, only Rathfern appears to have secured insurance- in both years.

The final caller to the Nolan Show this morning asked the right question: Do the bonfire builders have any receipts for the pallets bought?

Hmmmmmm…….

These revelations once again illustrate why the SDLP Minister Mark H Durkan is entirely correct to pursue the option of licensing all bonfires in future years.

Anyway, as the person who asked the FOI question from Antrim and Newtownabbey Council, I am in a position to provide Slugger readers with the full list of items declared as being purchased with ratepayers’ money.

Enjoy….

Antrim 2013/2014

Bonfire Expenditure for Balloo Community Association in 2013 and 2014
20132014
Sun umbrella£6.99Sweets/crisps£26.79
Sweets£41.95Gazebo£30.48
Lighting£19.06Tablecloth/ straws£3.00
Table/Chairs/BBQ items£67.00Petrol£20.00
Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£365.00Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£716.00
Hire of vehicle to build bonfire – inc wood & fuel£930.00Face painting£210.00
Burgers/chips/soft drinks£460.00DJ£350.00
Face painting£60.00Kids party bags£11.00
DJ£300.00Burgers/chips/soft drinks£500.00
Hire of 4 bouncy castles£750.00Hire of 5 bouncy castles£700.00
Hire of 4 walkabout charcters£160.00
Total£3,000.00Total£2,727.27
Bonfire Expediture for Ladyhill & Tannaghmore Rural Development Group in 2013 and 2014
20132014
Hire of 3 bouncy castles & 3 mascot costumes£850.00Hire of bouncy castles£1,500.00
Flute band playing at festival & bonfire for 2 hours£300.00Flute band playing at festival & bonfire£300
2nd flute band playing at fun night£300.00Hire of PA system & gazebos£210.00
Crowd control barriers/hazard warning lights/2 way radios£270Crowd control barriers/hazard warning lights/2 way radios£270.00
Hire of lambeg drummers£250.00Hire of lambeg drummers£162.27
Hire of 2 generators/lighting and staging unit£285.00Hire of 2 generators/lighting and staging unit£285.00
Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£669.00
Event insurance£76.00
Total£3,000Total£2,727.27
Bonfire Expenditure for Muckamore Parish Development Group in 2013 and 2014
20132014
No payments as they did not participateKids party packs with flags/whistles/party hats/streamers etc£740.00
Hire of 6 bouncy castles£1,500.00
DJ£350.00
Total£2,590.00
Bonfire expenditure for Neillsbrook Community Development Group in 2013 and 2014
20132014
Fireworks display£2,300.00Fireworks display£2,400.00
Flute band playing at bonfire event£200.00Flute band playing at bonfire event£300.00
Event insurance£500.00Safety barrier tape£6.85
Total£3,000.00Total£2,706.85
Bonfire Expenditure for Townparks Festival Group in 2013 and 2014
20132014
Disco and Karaoke£280.00Disco£300.00
Face painting£70.00Sweets/crisps/soft drinks£127.27
Hire of bouncy castles/rodeo bull & quads2300.00Hire of bouncy castles/rodeo bull & quads£2,300.00
Magic show and balloon modelling£145.00
Soft drinks/sweets/crispd£205.00
Total£3,000.00Total£2,727.27
Bonfire Expenditure for Newpark & Caulside Community Association in 2013 and 2014
20132014
Sweets/crisps/soft drinks£117.09Face painting and 2 walkabout characters£125.00
Briquettes & lighter fuel for BBQ£34.90BG Disco and karaoke£350.00
BBQ food provided and cooked£750.00BBQ food provided and cooked£750.00
Black plastic for waterslide£36.00Napkins£2.27
Hire of 4 bouncy castles£750.00Hire of bouncy castles/rodeo bull/quad bikes£1,500.00
Cakes£12.39
DJ on 11th July£300.00
Face painting£220.00
DJ at Orangefest Musical evening & supper£300.00
Flute band playing at bonfire event£300.00
Orangefest Supper£179.62
Total£3,000.00Total£2,727.27
Bonfire Expenditure for Parkhall Upper Community Association in 2013 and 2014
20132014
Ice lollies£11.05DJ£200
Hire of 4 bouncy castles£750.00Hire of 4 bouncy castles£750.00
Face painters and balloon modelling£220.00Sweets/crisps/soft drinks£82.60
Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£750.00Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£650.00
Pallets for bonfire£800.00Pallets for bonfire£1,000.00
Flute band playing at bonfire event£300.00
Total£2,831.05Total£2,682.60
Bonfire Expenditure for Steeple Festival Group in 2013 and 2014
20132014
Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£750.00Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£650.00
Hire of 4 bouncy castles£750.00Hire of 4 bouncy castles£750.00
Pallets for bonfire£1,500.00Pallets for bonfire£1,227.27
Flute band playing at bonfire event£100.00
Total£3,000.00Total£2,727.27
Bonfire Expenditure for Stiles Cultural Group in 2013 and 2014
20132014
Pallets for bonfire£1,000.00Pallets for bonfire£827.27
Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£750.00Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£650.00
Hire of 4 bouncy castles£750.00Catering van (burgers)£500.00
BBQ supplies – salad/baps/sauce/charcoal£148.87Hire of 4 bouncy castles£750.00
BBQ food – butchers£200.00
Hire of Stiles Community Centre£81.50
Soft drinks/crisps/sweets£69.63
Total£3,000.00Total£2,727.27
Bonfire Expenditure for Parkhall Community Association in 2013 and 2014
20132014
Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£750.00Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£650.00
Orange Fest Events 2013£2,250.00Hire of bouncy castles£1,060.14
DJ£200.00
BBQ items/sweets/choc/soft drinls£408.87
Fancy dress outfits£308.26
Flute band playing at bonfire event£100.00
Total£3,000.00Total£2,727.27
Bonfire Expenditure for Steeple Cultural & Heritage Society in 2013 and 2014
Steeple Cultural & Heritage Society had a joint bonfire with Parkhall Community Association on 11th July 2014.
The bonfire was held at the Steeple Cultural & Heritage Society site
20132014
Hire of 4 bouncy castles£750.00Marquee hire£1,600.00
Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£750.00Carnival decorations – flags/hats/whistles etc given to children£650.00
Marquee hire£1,200.00Flute band playing at event£400
Orchestra performance£300.00DJ£77.27
Total£3,000.00Total£2,727.27

2014 Newtownabbey

InflatablesFace PaintersDJ/DiscoEntertainmentHospitalityInsuranceClimbing Wall / GamesTransportDecorations / Medals / Prizes / Materials / Room Hire
Grange£1,370.00£162.50£200.00£250.00£1,982.50
Doagh£870.00£162.50£200.00£750.00£1,982.50
Burnside£650.00£150.00£200.00£1,000.00
QueensPark£400.00£100.00£1,300.00£200.00£2,000.00
Rathfern£550.00£265.00£95.00£1,035.00£40.00£1,985.00
Monkstown£425.00£650.00£855.00£115.00£2,045.00
Abbeytown Sq£800.00£200.00£225.00£175.00£600.00£2,000.00

 

2013 Newtownabbey

InflatablesFace PaintersDJ/DiscoEntertainmentHospitalityInsuranceClimbing Wall / GamesTransportDecorations / Medals / Prizes / Materials / Room Hire
Grange£1,370.00£180.00£200.00£250.00£2,000.00
Doagh£870.00£180.00£200.00£750.00£2,000.00
Burnside£200.00£100.00£100.00£400.00
QueensPark£725.00£100.00£1,100.00£75.00£2,000.00
Rathfern£1,150.00£200.00£500.00£95.00£1,945.00
Monkstown£1,000.00£180.00£200.00£242.43£24.00£253.13£1,899.56
Abbeytown Sq£800.00£300.00£300.00£127.00£470.00£1,997.00