Push for Chris­tian lights theme

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By JON BAS­SETT

COST and due process ended a push for re­li­gious sym­bols to be among dec­o­ra­tive Christ­mas street lights in the up­mar­ket shop­ping precinct of Clare­mont this year.

“It’s a re­li­gious cel­e­bra­tion, and a cel­e­bra­tion of the birth of Christ,” pro­po­nent Coun­cil­lor Chris Mews said at the coun­cil’s meet­ing last Tues­day.

Cr Mews wanted the coun­cil to in­struct its elec­tri­cian to in­clude a “clear Christ­mas theme” when putting up the lights this year.

“We need to make sure Christ­mas isn’t just about shop­ping, lights, some drink­ing and of­fice par­ties,” he said.

The ex­am­ple of US stores now call­ing Christ­mas trees “pine trees” demon­strated un­wanted changes to the fes­ti­val.

Clare­mont’s lights should have “Merry Christ­mas” and a “ba­sic Chris­tian theme” to “get away from the ‘happy hol­i­days’ frame of mind”, he said. “It’s not as though we’re en­forc­ing it, it’s just so peo­ple who want to cel­e­brate it can.”

The coun­cil has bought Christ­mas lights cost­ing about $75,000 in re­cent years, be­fore bud­get­ing about $20,000 for their usual in­stal­la­tion ear­lier this year.

“If you want to cre­ate a re­li­gious theme, aren’t you al­ready be­cause those lights are just part of Christ­mas?” Cr Paul Kelly said.

It could take the coun­cil six to nine months to get new lights with any sym­bols, but there had been no al­lo­ca­tion in the 2017-18 bud­get.

“What­ever the worth or in­ten­tion of Cr Mew’s re­quest, it is not go­ing to be prac­ti­cal to change the lights the con­trac­tor is putting up this year,” Cr Bruce Haynes said.

While the con­tac­tor would be in­structed to in­stall lights with a Christ­mas theme, dis­cus­sions of po­ten­tial fund­ing for new lights with sym­bols would not be dis­cussed un­til bud­get talks for the 2017-18 fi­nan­cial year.

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