AS Forfar prepares for the annual switching on of the Christmas lights at 6.30 pm tomorrow evening (Thursday), there was a call for more investment in the lights at this month’s meeting of Forfar Community Council.
The town lights have been a talking point over the last few years – for all the wrong reasons – with many features not working and complaints about the way in which the Christmas tree at the Cross has been decorated.
However, this year the lights will be concentrated in and around the Cross area, with four new features now prominently displayed.
But for one community councillor it is still not enough.
Calling for more investment Joe Harkin asked: “Is there not some way to get some money to brighten this town up?”
“The whole of the high street used to be lit up – it’s like a different world now. Can we not do something?”
However, Angus Councillor Glennis Middleton explained the council’s lighting department had set a budget for Christmas lights – and that was it.
She said: “They were quite willing for others to extend the lights. But they would not only pay for the lights, but for their fitting and maintenance – everything to do with the lights - that is how bad the budget stretches. Every burgh has the same restraint.
“Many people have done a huge amount of work trying to raise money and to try to improve the lights. If those people who feel the lights are a disappointment wish to come forward to do some fund-raising then I think they would be very welcome.”
Whilst Mr Harkin pointed out Montrose and Kirriemuir had better light displays than Forfar, Councillor Middleton explained in other burghs such as Carnoustie, it was the Carnoustie business people who paid for the lights which were “absolutely beautiful”.
The long-running saga of Forfar’s lights were discussed, with chairman Mrs Isobel Ross pointing out that new lights, wiring and junction boxes had been installed a few years ago.
She said: “We had something like £10,000 as a one off that year from the Forfar Common Good. £9,000 went on wiring, junction boxes, cabling, putting up the lights and taking them down. We were left with something like £1,000 to pay for the lights.”
Councillor Middleton added that was the year extra funding had been available for Christmas lights.
She added: “We hoped everything would be spent on new lights, but health and safety dictated some had to be stopped, junction boxes had to be removed and the money that was available went on that.”
However, Mr Harkin still felt something could be done to provide the town with a better display adding “If we leave it the way it is, we won’t have any lights.”
For more comments on Forfar’s Christmas lights see page 28.