‘Christmas lights will not fall victim to cuts’

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Politicians have pledged that Berkhamsted’s Christmas lights will not fall victim to council cuts – despite the proposed scrapping of pole-mounted festive motifs.

A meeting of Berkhamsted Town Council’s finance and policy committee heard that the motifs – which depict Christmas trees and other festive scenes – would cost about £5,000 to replace.

They are coming towards the end of their lifespan, which is around 2,000 hours of usage, and many have burnt out already.

Committee chairman David Collins said: “Let us stay with the rest while they work and then quietly lose them.”

But Councillor Peter Matthews said: “I do not think they add a huge amount to the display.”

The meeting heard that 70 per cent of the High Street’s Christmas lights failed at some point during the last festive season.

When the mayor switched them on, a central section of the High Street remained unlit.

The lights have lasted for longer than expected, but are now more than 12 years old.

There are also demands to for new Christmas lights in Lower Kings Road – which the committee agreed to support. The committee said it would also replace all of its existing Christmas lights.

But councillors agreed that the motifs should be removed, so that the remaining few do not look ‘bedraggled’ compared to the brand new lights.

Council clerk Gary Cox later said: “This is not the council cutting back on Christmas.

“This is the council taking a very sensible decision to say: ‘The Christmas lights are at the end of their shelf life.’”

Replacing the lights is expected to cost at least £12,000 – which will come from a £22,000 fund reserved specifically for that task.