Charg­ing for Christ­mas lights sparks outrage

Christ­mas: Coun­cil floats idea of billing com­mu­ni­ties for elec­tric­ity

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID PROC­TOR

Coun­cil­lors have unan­i­mously voiced their op­po­si­tion to pro­pos­als to charge com­mu­ni­ties for the elec­tric­ity used to power Christ­mas lights. Aberdeen­shire Coun­cil is look­ing at mak­ing groups pay for the power they use from next year as it looks to save around £11,000.

Coun­cil­lors have unan­i­mously voiced their op­po­si­tion to pro­pos­als to charge com­mu­ni­ties for the elec­tric­ity used to power Christ­mas lights.

Aberdeen­shire Coun­cil is look­ing at mak­ing groups pay for the power they use from next year as it looks to save around £11,000.

Com­mu­nity groups buy, main­tain and erect the dis­plays and cover their costs through fundrais­ing.

Mem­bers of the Banff and Buchan area com­mit­tee have come out unan­i­mously against the plan.

Coun­cil­lor Charles Buchan warned the lo­cal au­thor­ity risked dam­ag­ing its reputation if they pushed ahead with the con­tro­ver­sial pol­icy.

He said: “I am re­ally wor­ried about the rep­u­ta­tional dam­age to the coun­cil from th­ese groups of vol­un­teers that the com­mu­nity de­pend on.

“It would just dec­i­mate, or even worse, the whole idea of Christ­mas lights, which we need to make our towns at­trac­tive look­ing.”

Mr Buchan was speak­ing at a meet­ing of the Banff and Buchan area com­mit­tee in Fraser­burgh yes­ter­day.

Coun­cil­lor Mark Find­later ar­gued that the po­ten­tial fi­nan­cial sav­ings did not add up.

He added: “It is a drop in the ocean and, as far as I am con­cerned, we should be sup­port­ing our lo­cal groups.

“I am sorry, but I would not like to see any of our com­mu­ni­ties not hav­ing fes­tive lights.”

Coun­cil­lor Brian Top­ping said it was an “in­sult” to those who work to dec­o­rate their com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

He said: “It’s only 40 days to go un­til Christ­mas and pan­tomime sea­son is al­most upon us and the lead­ing role this year is Aberdeen­shire Coun­cil star­ring as Scrooge.

“I am very sur­prised, if not as­ton­ished, that the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­tu­ally al­lowed this re­port to see the light of day.

“As for the coun­cil want­ing to charge for elec­tric­ity to op­er­ate Christ­mas lights in our com­mu­ni­ties, to me it is an ab­so­lute in­sult to the kind-hearted, hard-work­ing vol­un­teers who freely give up their valu­able time year af­ter year.”

Aberdeen­shire Coun­cil claimed the pos­si­ble pol­icy was in­tended to cre­ate a con­sis­tent ap­proach and al­low them to con­trol fu­ture costs associated with light­ing dis­plays.

The lo­cal au­thor­ity will dis­cuss the idea next year.

“The lead­ing role this year is Aberdeen­shire Coun­cil star­ring as Scrooge”

PULL THE PLUG: Coun­cil­lors Ross Cassie, Charles Buchan, Glen Reynolds and Brian Top­ping are united against any charge for elec­tric­ity used by Christ­mas lights

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