March 12 2014 Latest news:
by Zjan Shirinian
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Festive lights could be kept in place all year round across the borough in an effort to end annual rows over their cost and location.
Council leader Cllr Keith Prince revealed his festive vision for the future at a meeting of area committee four last week at William Torbitt Primary, Eastern Avenue, Newbury Park.
He said it would cut costs and allow the lights to be used for a variety of celebrations.
The Barkingside ward councillor was speaking as colleagues looked at a report proposing a “central festive lighting fund”.
Cllr Prince said: “I want to speak candidly. I think that our approach to festive lights has been a bit random.
“In June, July or August an officer goes around scraping up contributions [for lights].
“At the 11th hour we put the lights up, but they charge us more for putting them up and taking them off than for the lights themselves.
“I’m suggesting a central fund. We will have lights wrapped around lighting columns. We just put them up and leave them there.
“When we have different festivals like Diwali, Hanukkah, Eid, and whichever other festival you’d like to name, we would switch them on and then, at the end, switch them off. But we will leave them there.
“If area committees wish to fund something in addition to that, like a Menorah, a tree, they can do that.”
He added: “In future we can celebrate all the festivals of lights through the year.
“It will put a different light on things.”
The funding of Christmas lights – up until now decided separately by each of the seven area committees – regularly causes controversy and disagreement.
Last year, area four refused to give almost £6,000 for lights in Gants Hill but agreed to fund up to £2,500.
Cllr Prince stressed the plans had yet to be approved by his cabinet colleagues, but Conservative Cllr Ruth Clark praised the idea, adding: “This is the best news I’ve heard. Every year it’s a total mess with the Gants Hill Business Partnership.”