‘Disappointed’ by new tree of lights

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NEW Christmas lights have dimmed the spirits of residents and councillors.

Stamford’s traditional Christmas tree was replaced this year by a tree of lights in Red Lion Square, at a proposed cost of £17,027.

The tree and decorations are organised and funded by Stamford Town Council

The new fixture has been criticised since it was switched on in November and both members of the public and Stamford town councillors spoke out at a meeting on Tuesday.

Former councillor Bill Turner said the new lights were “absolutely awful”.

He said: “I would like to be able to say how good the Christmas decorations are but I can’t.

“I don’t know why anyone decided not to decorate the tree in All Saints Church yard and why we have forgone the tree we normally have. I hope next year will be much better.”

Mr Turner did not lay all the blame at the feet of the council and urged the Chamber of Trade and High Street businesses to contribute to decorations.

A number of councillors, including Sue Sandall and Maxine Couch, questioned the cost and value for money.

Coun Couch pointed out that the proposed cost had increased to £22,292.40, while Coun Sandall added: “I question the value of the lights. They are not value for money.”

Treasurer Carol Garwen confirmed Coun Couch’s figure, but said the council could claim back VAT so the actual cost would be £18,577.

This included testing, a legal requirement.

Coun Mike Exton, who helped organise this year’s decorations, admitted he was disappointed with the tree of lights.

He said: “It didn’t come off as well as we thought it would. But we have got ideas we can put to the installers to try and come up with some kind of improvement.”

Coun Exton said that points along High Street, Ironmonger Street and in Red Lion Square had been identified as potential homes for Christmas trees.

He added: “The town council would find it impossible to fund these but traders could help.”

Coun Bob Sandall suggested a working party could be set up to organise next year’s lights.

The council resolved to refer the issue of the cost of the lights to its finance committee.