Christmas lights to be discussed at monthly meeting

MONTROSE community councillors met with Angus Council officials this week to discuss the way forward for the town’s Christmas lights display.

While the meeting, held in Montrose Academy, was in private, community council chairman Peter Davies said its content and the lights’ funding situation will be discussed tonight (Thursday) at the group’s monthly meeting.

He said: “The meeting was called by the council officials to try and sort out the Christmas lights and the content of the meeting will be revealed at the community council meeting on Thursday.

“More than that I can’t really say but we were trying to work a lot of things out and we were there for about two hours. The meeting was private and not open to the public but there is an item on the agenda for it to be discussed on Thursday when the public will be able to go along.”

According to figures supplied by the community council £7,000 and £9,000 will have to be raised before Christmas next year to maintain the current lighting display

That would include the cost of replacement lights for Murray Street as well as meeting the cost of repeating last year’s display in Hume Street, Western Road and the High Street.

The community councillors were advised that Angus Council will at no cost to the local community provide the existing coverage of Christmas lights from outside the Ballhouse north down the High Street to Ladbrokes and also the features attached to the street lamps in Hume Street.

Should the community wish to add the two features in Western Road and the festoon outside Highland Scene then the sum of £4,420 a year would need to be raised. This would include the cost of erection, dismantling, maintenance and future replacement of the two features and one festoon.

They have also been told of the need to start replacing the existing festoons/features from next year. Prices will vary from £300 to £2,000 per festoon/feature and does not include the £2,755 cost to erect and dismantle them. As this is outside the boundary, this cost would have to be funded again by the community.

In a joint statement released earlier this month the community councillors said: “Angus Council have advised funding would need to be found year on year, and with the need to start replacing the Murray Street lights next year, somewhere in the region of between £7,000 and £9,000 would need to be raised for Christmas 2012 should it be decided to repeat last year’s display in Murray Street, Hume Street, Western Road and the High Street.”

The community council has raised money for the lights over several years to supplement the budget set by Angus Council. The Christmas lighting budget for 2010/11 was set at £132,000 with the option for communities to access Common Good funding as well as carry on their own fund-raising activities.

Montrose was allocated £13,255 for the financial year which included the lighting on the High Street between Swapp’s Close and Hume Street.

The community councillors have pointed out that their Christmas light fund currently stands at £5,949.77, with only £1566.59 being raised over the last year.

The statement added: “The outstanding invoice due to Angus Council for Christmas is £2,755, half of which has been paid by Montrose Common Good Fund leaving a balance of £1,377. Should it be decided to repeat last year’s display this year, we have been advised it will cost £7,175. Providing Montrose Common Good Fund continues to match funds, the community would then pay half of this, £3,587.50. This still has to be agreed by Angus Council.

“If the above option is agreed then a total of £4,964.50, including the £1,377 still due from Christmas 2010, would need to be paid from the community council’s Christmas light fund leaving a balance of £685.27.”

Montrose Community Council’s meeting will be held in Montrose Academy tonight (Thursday) at 7pm.