Silent Night As ESB Pull Plug On Midleton Christmas

By Seamus Whelehan

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Thought the Grinch was a fictional character it appears there is a real-life example.
Midleton traders have slammed ESB Networks for pulling the plug on their attempt to spread some Christmas cheer.
For the past 20 years the Market town has been broadcasting festive tunes through a network of speakers attached to lighting standards along Main Street.
But this year ESB Networks have been accused of spoiling Christmas in the market town, as the piped music is banned until the speakers are relocated to a safer location, due to concerns over health and safety.
The retailers have used twinkling light displays and festive tunes to attract bargain hunters to the area for the past two decades.
However last week the energy provider said the traders needed to cease its annual street Christmas music as a “significant danger” “exists when third parties come in close proximity to overhead cables.”
The news broke as a report published by the Chartered Surveyors of Ireland found many Irish towns are suffering a long drawn out decline, with urgent action required.
Increased costs, the legacy of out of town shopping centres, the dissolution of Town Council and high vacancy rates has led to a “perfect storm” for the decline of regional highstreets, the report stated.
Fergus McCarthy, a local trader, said he could not understand the change in ESB policy considering the company were consulted first day on the location of the speakers.
“Finding a hook or a niche is important in attracting consumers into towns like Midleton.”
“It added so much to stroll up the town and hear the music. Christmas suddenly kicked in last Friday but it was strange to have only the sound of cars, particularly last Saturday” commented Mr McCarthy.
ESB Networks said they were “acutely aware of the efforts being made by local business groups and retailers in what are still, challenging times for small local businesses”
They said while they welcome the lift and good cheer that music brings locally.
They would be “glad to make a contribution to locate the sound system to a safer location.”
However, Mr McCarthy claims it is too late to get agreement from retailers to have the speakers fixed to their building this year.
He says a compensatory offer of €150 from the energy provider is too little too late.

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