NEWS

2011-12-11

Shabby Xmas Lights

A COUNCIL'S 'shambolic' Christmas lights display - which has cost the taxpayer GBP27,000 - have been branded the shabbiest in the UK.   

Faulty lights in Aylesbury town centre, Buckinghamshire, have been erected with several malfunctions, including reindeer with only one antler and one leg as well as Santa without a face. 

Once darkness falls, one sign describes the town as "a great lace to be" while another declares "seasns eets" from Aylesbury Vale District Council - who forked out for GBP26,744 on the display. 

Angry residents have described their local Christmas lights display as "embarrassing",  "shabby" and as 'surely the worst in the country'.  

Barbara Murphy, 64, from Aylesbury, said: "They are terrible," said the grandmother-of-two. "Half the lights don't work, which makes some of the characters more scary than festive. They're more likely to scare children than fill them with joy.

"My niece asked me 'why can't I see Father Christmas' face' and where's Rudolph's leg gone?

"They must be the worst in the country, I don't know what the council were thinking when they allowed these to be put up and left. It just makes the town look like a joke - it's embarrassing."

Neal Davies, 24, also from the town, is another of many to have slammed the decorations which he says he is ashamed to take his nieces to see.

“It seems the council has let it slide, there is not one feature of the lights that is actually working properly,” he said.

“It is now becoming a running joke amongst my friends and I as to just how shambolic the lights are and the glaring errors in how they’ve been put up.

“I want to see Christmas brought back for Aylesbury instead of neglecting what is one of the town’s only celebrations of a beautiful holiday tradition.”

UKIP member at the district council, Chris Adams, also condemned the authority’s spending on the faulty decorations and debated the issue at a council meeting on Wednesday.

“The lights in the town centre are a disgrace,” he said.

“They seem to be a mere afterthought and look as though they have been stuck up year on year, with little thought given to how they look.

“What is the district council doing? How can we be getting so little for our money? We’ve got hardly anything to show for it.

“With the way the times are right now we owe it to our shopkeepers to attract people into town at this time of year. It’s such a waste of money.”

Matthew Elliott. Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Residents expect a bit of festive cheer in their town centre but councils have got to get value for money in everything they do, even when putting up the Christmas lights.

"GBP27,000 is a huge amount of money to spend on high street decorations, Aylesbury taxpayers would expect a lot more than this shoddy display for the amount of money they have been made to fork out."

Cabinet member for civic amenities at the council, Brian Roberts, said: “We are obviously very disappointed that some of the Christmas lights have not been working properly.

“We have been informed by our contractor that the majority of the faulty lights have now been repaired and we expect the remaining few to be repaired shortly.

“Our Christmas lights display shows Aylesbury town centre is open for business.

“The lights and other decorations cheer people up during a time when the evenings are really dark and they’re a treat for all ages.

“They also attract people into the town, which encourages a greater spend in our shops, restaurants and licensed premises.”