CRAIGAVON Borough Council has been accused of lagging behind in its pledge to mark the 400th anniversary of Portadown this year.
Records appear to show that both Portadown and Lurgan were founded in the same year of 1610, but while Lurgan saw a year of events in 2010 including a star-studded concert hosted by Eamonn Holmes a Christmas market, a time capsule, sports contests and a John Anderson Big Band extravaganza, Portadown is still waiting.
The council has pledged to spend £100,000 on Portadown’s birthday celebrations in 2012, even if they are two years late.
However, not a single event has so far been confirmed and we are five months into 2012. It is understood that council officials want to wait until later in 2012 to avoid a clash with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June.
Alderman Arnold Hatch said, “It was mentioned in passing at a committee meeting back in January, but since then I haven’t heard a word. It seems patently unfair that the two towns were founded at around the same time, but Portadown hasn’t been given the courtesy of the same celebrations as Lurgan, and at the appropriate time.”
History shows that in 1610, James the First granted 2,000 acres of land to a William Powell, and thus the genesis of Portadown was established, with families like Obins and McCann to the fore.
Lurgan’s progress was, according to history, swifter, but when the railways reached Portadown, the boom really began and it remains one of the leading industrial towns in Northern Ireland.
“That’s all as may be,” said Alderman Hatch. “But here we are into the summer of 2012 - 402 years after Portadown was established - and there isn’t the sign of a programme of events.”
The Portadown Times contacted the Civic Centre, and the following statement was released - “Craigavon Borough Council has allocated £100,000 towards events to celebrate Portadown’s 400th anniversary. Council officers are currently in the process of planning for a series of events to take place in Portadown throughout the latter part of 2012 and 2013.
“A successful programme of events was organised to celebrate Lurgan’s 400th anniversary and the council looks forward to working with key stakeholders to deliver the same for Portadown.”
Mr Hatch added, “That, being interpreted, has a hint that the council has been caught on the hop. It’ll be well into 2013 - three years late - when most of the programme surfaces, whatever it turns out to be. I have copies of the committee meeting minutes over the past six months, and I have searched in vain for a detailed programme. It simply isn’t good enough.”
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