Christmas could be a duller affair in Somerset’s county town after traders voted not to pay for the glitter of decorations and the council declined to pick up the bill. Taunton Deane Borough Council will put up a Christmas tree outside Market House and install lights in the town’s Fore Street, but that will be it. Stretched businesses have voted not to contribute to a separate kitty which for the past five years has added extra sparkle and helped boost general well-being for shoppers.
Any hopes that Conservative-controlled Taunton Deane would increase its financial support were dashed when it said in a statement it: “is not responsible for Christmas lights and has no budget for them.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Jefferson Horsley has condemned the decision as a “PR disaster.”
Mark Raisey, merchandise director at Hatchers department store said the council and Taunton Town Centre Company has missed a: “golden opportunity to show what can be done at Christmas to inspire the traders to think again for next year. Hatchers is showing the way by spending £1,000 on five Christmas trees which will twinkle outside its premises.
The council says it supports many of the activities that take place in the lead up to Christmas and Councillor Kelly Durdan is setting up a working group to coordinate ideas and offers of support for extra lights or activities. She can be contacted via email: Cllr.firstname.lastname@example.org
The council makes a £42,700 general contribution to the Town Centre Company and gives £20,000 for lights in Wellington and Wiveliscombe.