Christmas tree and lights face chop after area commmittees scrapped
PUBLISHED: 17:05 25 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:21 25 September 2014
Christmas could be cancelled this year after funding for festive decorations was cut following the controversial scrapping of area committees.
The lights and Christmas tree on Wanstead’s George Green – which has previously been funded each year with money from the now-defunct committees – is facing the chop, with organisers saying they must find a new way to fund this year’s celebrations.
Cllr Michelle Dunn (Con, Wanstead) said: “We are absolutely gutted. It’s a fantastic event, it’s part of the festive season.
“This is just the sort of thing we are going to see disappear. A lot of good work was done with the area committee.”
She said in the past, £7,000 had been provided to fund the festivities.
Redbridge Council axed the committees this month in a bid to slash £60 million from its budget over the next four years. They have been replaced with local forums, which have no individual budget.
Chairman of the Woodford Green Amenities Group, Geoff Stimpson, said the group was still waiting to find out whether it would be receiving its usual funding for hanging baskets.
Mr Stimpson said over the past 20 years, the organisation had paid £2,200 for baskets up front before receiving match-funding from the council via area committees.
He said: “It’s not the ideal situation. We only realised it after the May elections.
“I had made a financial application for funding. It had been agreed by the Monkhams councillors, but of course things changed rapidly.”
He said despite trying to contact the council, he did not know whether any money would be provided.
The group has a fundraising stall at Barclays in the Broadway selling Christmas cards and other items.
The leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, hit back at fears by highlighting the fact he was only carrying out what the Tory administration decided.
“A strategic approach for festivities was proposed by the Conservative group and backed by the Lib Dems,” he said.
“It is not about what is being taken away in funding but what is being added.”
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