Christmas lights pay price of budget cuts

Have your say

LEEDS HAS been forced to cut spending Christmas lights by hundreds of thousands of pounds in the wake of budget cuts, the Yorkshire Evening Post has found.

A request made under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that Leeds has reduced the budget for lights and decorations by over £200,000 since 2009. This year it spent £404,890, compared with the £663,834 total five years ago.

The reduction has been put down to increased pressure on local authority budgets which have been imposed since the coalition government came into power in 2010.

A spokesman for Leeds Council said: “With budgets continuing to be tight, we are always looking at ways in which to ensure our lights switch-on events and decorations continue to be enjoyed, whilst ensuring the cost to the council is kept as low as possible.

“As part of this work, we work closely with partners to find ways in which to keep our costs down. This includes continually assess our own infrastructure to ensure they remain in good, working condition and through the introduction of energy efficient LED lights that have resulted in significant electricity savings. In recent years, we have also generated income from external Christmas displays which we have worked on.”

Meanwhile, smaller town and parish councils are finding new ways to mitigate the impact of cuts and foot the bill for festivities, and last month the website Spacehive launched a crowdfunding Christmas lights in high streets and town centres.

Christmas illuminations in Tadcaster are being arranged by the Tadcaster and Rural Community Interest Company, a not-for-profit set up earlier this year.

David Gluck, from the Tadcaster and Rural Community Interest Company, said: “Like many towns Tadcaster is short of money. However, from 2014 and onwards, we are determined to make the Christmas lights of Tadcaster something to talk about, and make Christmas here an event to remember.”