It’s Showtime for pensioners

New Mayor of Ballymena, Cllr. Audrey Wales. INBT24-206AC
New Mayor of Ballymena, Cllr. Audrey Wales. INBT24-206AC

Hundreds of pensioners who had to be put on ‘a waiting list’ for the Mayor’s annual Senior Citizens’ Christmas Concert after ticket demand outstripped supply will be heading for The Braid today.

They are being treated to a country music-style Cabaret Show having missed out on the festive concerts last year.

With 12,000 residents in the borough eligible to attend and only 800 seats available in total for the two performances, the free tickets were quickly snapped up.

It was agreed at a Council meeting back in November to stage a further show in the New Year at a cost of £5,500, including transport plus complimentary sweets and ice-cream, to accommodate the hundreds of elderly people who had been left disappointed and on a waiting list.

Looking to 2014, the introduction of a small charge of £5 per ticket was recommended, with money raised being donated to the Mayor’s nominated charity.

In an update to councillors, last week, Council officer Bernie Candlish reported that a telephone survey of festive show attenders confirmed that all spoken to would be prepared to pay for a seat this year.

Councillors, however, unanimously agreed on the proposal of Cllr John Carson not to impose the ‘charitable’ charge.

Prior to being put to the vote, many councillors spoke out against asking pensioners to pay.

Cllr Beth Adger said: “I am very much against charging. Our senior citizens get very little for their money. This was always given free. It’s a wee treat for our senior citizens”.

Cllr Paul Maguire said: “By virtue of their name they are senior and they have paid rates for a lifetime...I would be opposed to what I consider would be a very mean idea.”

Cllrs Digney, Clarke, Carson, Hubert Nicholl and Tommy Nicholl also spoke out against charging for the shows, the latter stating: “Our senior citizens have paid their debt to community and Council over the years and when they get to that age they deserve wee treats.”