Communities to fund Camden Christmas lights from 2015
- Credit: Archant
The uncertain future of Camden’s Christmas lights will rest on the shoulders of communities and businesses after the council revealed financial cutbacks have left it unable to fund festive decorations.
From next year it will be up to town centres to find the £16,595 needed to put up lights in each high street during the Christmas season as Camden Council struggles to reduce a £70million hole in its budget over the next three years.
The council has promised to provide support for businesses and community groups which help to pay for lights in the borough’s high streets.
Cllr Sally Gimson, cabinet member for sustainability and environment, said: “As a council we are £70million short of funding until 2017/2018 and we need to make huge cuts, and that’s going to mean lots of people losing their jobs and stopping services.
“So we need help from people in business to make sure we can continue to light up Camden.
“We need to make sure we still celebrate Christmas in Camden and I am determined that we do as it’s really important.”
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For the first time this year festive lights have been funded at no cost to Camden Council or the taxpayer as council contractors have stepped in to ensure that the borough is aglow come Christmas.
Lights in Hampstead and Camden Town are funded every year by its business associations but until this year the council paid for lights in some other town centres, including Queen’s Crescent, Kentish Town, West End Lane and Kilburn High Road, Kilburn.
Next year, Camden Council will be unable to rely on its contractors to save the borough’s Christmas lights because many of its contracts will be up for renewal.
“We have the lights for now but we can’t afford to do this in the future,” said Cllr Gimson.
‘‘We will need to have conversations about how we are going to cover this, and we need to have these conversations now for Christmas 2015 so we don’t have a last-minute scramble.”
In neighbouring Haringey, the council will again contribute £4,000 to put up lights ahead of Highgate’s annual Christmas festival, and will also fund lights in Hornsey, Crouch End and Muswell Hill.
In another plea to communities, Cllr Gimson has also asked residents to help grit the borough’s minor roads in icy or snowy weather.
Anyone can ask the local authority for a free shovel to help shift snow off their roads, and the council is encouraging residents to use the yellow trunks of grit on roadsides to de-ice public highways.
“What I didn’t know is that we are allowed to use the big grit bunkers around the street on public roads,” Cllr Gimson said. “But not your front drive.
“We grit major roads but sometimes not the minor roads, so if residents want to grit the street, they can.”