Council apologises for lack of Christmas lights

The snowflake is projected onto the building on the other side of the street. Picture: Greg Macvean

The snowflake is projected onto the building on the other side of the street. Picture: Greg Macvean

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CITY bosses have offered their “sincere apologies” after quietly revealing scores of high streets across the Capital will not get festive lights this year.

We told earlier this month how 13 communities across Edinburgh will lose decorations that have been in place for decades – in a council attempt to save cash.

Corstorphine, Portobello, Morningside, Davidson’s Mains and Tollcross will all be affected by the move, which will leave many communities with just a Christmas tree.

Council chiefs said the lights that were used in previous years are no longer fit for use – and insisted the city has no cash to buy new ones.

But outraged community leaders said they had been told nothing of the plans, which aim to save £27,000 in repair and replacement costs. And now the council has sent a grovelling letter to 13 different community groups to apologise.

Paul Lawrence, the council’s executive director of place, wrote: “I am writing to offer my sincere apologies for the lack of notice given to you regarding the removal of the Christmas lighting column motifs.

“There has clearly been a breakdown in communication between officers within the council.

“Unfortunately the stock of lights and other decorations has suffered damage due to 
weather, vandalism and general wear and tear and we were unable to meet the replacement costs within the very constrained revenue budget.

“This decision was made by council officers and is my responsibility. No elected councillors were involved in the decision-making process.

“We are working to ensure that this breakdown in communication does not occur in future.”

He said the council would be “reviewing [its] festive lighting provision early in the New Year” to decide if new lights can be bought in time for next Christmas.

He added: “We will keep you informed of the outcomes. Again, please accept my apologies.”

Meanwhile, communities affected by this year’s crackdown have been attempting to plug the gap themselves.

In Portobello, Porty Hardware said it was “glad to try and fill in for the missing Christmas lights on the High Street” with a projection of snowflakes on a nearby building.

And Kirkliston Gala Committee is leading its own fundraising drive to buy new lights for the village centre – with more than £2000 raised so far.

A council spokeswoman said it would work to communicate better with local communities in the future.

She said: “Some festive decorations have suffered damage due to weather, vandalism and general wear and tear and, unfortunately, this has resulted in us being able to provide less local lighting this year.

“The decorations we do have are all being put to use. We appreciate the disappointment felt by local communities about how this had been handled and will ensure that we communicate with them more effectively in future.”

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk