WE'RE fast approaching that time of year when all talk turns to Christmas, so for our latest look back at the Advertiser's archives, we're sharing a story on festive lighting frugality by Argyll and Bute Council in 2009...


HELENSBURGH is facing a credit crunch Christmas with precious little sparkle to brighten the town centre.

And while the town’s Chamber of Commerce had hoped that the council would be able to help with the costs of the annual Christmas lights switch-on, the council had been contemplating asking the Chamber for help in paying for the lights to go up.

It now looks as though Helensburgh will have lights - but only in Colquhoun Square, and the switch-on may well be severely downscaled.

The town’s Christmas lights are ageing, many are beyond repair, and the council does not have the money to repair or replace them. And even if they did they do not have the funding to put them up.

The whole issue of the town’s dismal Christmas is coming before the Helensburgh and Lomond area committee next week, but it looks unlikely that funding will be found for the street displays of festive lights.

A report to go before the committee says: “The severe weather conditions during the latter part of the display season 2008-09 delayed the removal of equipment, mainly on health and safety grounds.

“This unfortunately resulted in excessive damage to the displays and the need for a substantial replacement of hardware, well in excess of the available budget.

“At this time only the Rosneath and Kilcreggan tree lights and 15 white light features from Colquhoun Square remain fully serviceable. New mounting brackets will be required for the latter.”

The report concludes: “Available funding only allows for a restricted display compared to previous years which effectively overspent the allocation, as detailed in the previous paper.

“A modest display of features and a Christmas tree in Colquhoun Square or restricting festive displays to the lighting of Christmas trees only in Helensburgh, Cardross, Rhu, Garelochhead, Luss, Rosneath and Kilcreggan are the only configurations possible within the departmental budget allocation.

“All arrangements greater than this and any new or replacement fittings must be funded from additional contributions from sources outwith the Roads and Amenity maintenance budget headings. Delivery times are now critical and funding must be secured immediately if we are to receive equipment in time.”

Town centre councillor Gary Mulvaney said this week: “It is a concern but there are almost no lights left in working order and there is concern about how big a display we can put on.”

And he added: “There are, however, two issues to look at. One is the lack of working lights and the other is the high cost of putting them up.

“The display itself will have to be scaled back but that will help in mitigating the cost of putting them up.”