This week's Councillor Column is written by Lomond North independent councillor George Freeman.

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As many readers will be aware, the council no longer funds Christmas lighting in any of our communities and any community that wants to see a Christmas tree lighting their communities in future, will have to take on this task themselves.

Within my Lomond North ward, a small one-off payment was being made available to five communities to try and encourage them to take on this task.

Having pressed the council for almost a year to arrange a meeting with ward councillors and the Community Councils concerned, the meeting eventually took place on Tuesday, October 8.

At that meeting, it was made clear by the council that the dressing of Christmas trees with lights and arranging the electrical connection and switch-on would now be the responsibility of the communities.

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As a special electrical G39 qualification is required for this work, I offered to speak to Tony and Vivien Dance of the Helensburgh Festive Lighting Charitable Trust (HFLCT) to see if they could provide assistance.

I was aware that they had suggested to council officers a year ago that they would be happy to consider assisting the Lochside communities with this project.

I met with Mr and Mrs Dance within 48 hours, and they confirmed that they had made such an offer to Argyll and Bute Council in 2018 but that the authority had rejected that offer.

Given that the council is now throwing HFLCT out of the site they have occupied for many years before Christmas, all their resources are tied up in transferring all their containers, material and equipment to a new site; they do not have the resources to help these Lomond North communities at such short notice but were happy to discuss helping in future years.

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I have asked the council if they would provide a cost for connecting the Christmas lights in my ward but they are not willing to assist as, surprisingly, they argue they do not have the resources.

It is disappointing that communities could now be left without Christmas trees when an offer to help was available from HFLCT that the council rejected - and that the council has refused to consider allowing the communities to pay the council for this service.

Communities have been ‘landed in it’ through no fault of their own.

It is clear to me that Scrooge is alive and well within Argyll and Bute Council.

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