Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council considers scrapping books of condolences in money-saving bid

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council is considering scrapping books of condolences – and moving to an online only system.

However the proposal, made at Lisburn and Castlereagh Council, was met with some concerns over the collection of data on how many people have signed the physical books.The council’s corporate committee voted last week to move towards virtual memorial books in order to save £225 spent on each physical book opened as well as flowers and a display photo.In the last five years, the local authority has opened 13 books of condolence of which seven were virtual and six physical.

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Recent records have shown that more people in the district signed a virtual book to Captain Tom Moore than they did for Queen Elizabeth II.However, Lisburn South Alderman Paul Porter discovered that the council had not kept any record of how many signatures had been made on physical books.He said: “I do like the option of a physical book and I think that without the data of how many signatures are on them we should not be going about to change council policy.“This is a very sensitive issue. We must have more information before going forward in such a radical way.“I propose that we keep one physical book open at the civic centre for one year to gain the data that is needed, so we know how many people are signing and we can also see how many have signed the virtual books.“If the data provides support for physical books then we should revert back.”Support for the virtual policy was given by Lisburn North Alderman Stephen Martin who said he disagreed with Ald Porter.“The proposal for virtual books would bring our policy up to date. Social media has changed all of this.“Recent significant events have seen that a shift has occurred where people can express themselves virtually, more quickly and no need to travel to Lagan Valley Island.”The amendment by Ald. Porter to the proposal was supported and carried on the floor.A council officer highlighted the Mayor of the day could still open more physical books of condolence at their discretion.A report on collected signatures will be presented to council in 12 months to decide whether to end physical books of condolence completely.

Lisburn South Alderman Paul Porter discovered that the council had not kept any record of how many signatures had been made on physical books