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Taking a dim view of new Christmas lights

disappointed: Councillor Peter Webb is angry that the town council wants to spend £25,000 on Christmas lights.

disappointed: Councillor Peter Webb is angry that the town council wants to spend £25,000 on Christmas lights.

First published in News

A COUNCILLOR has launched a scathing attack on his own council’s decision to ‘squander’ up to £25,000 on new Christmas lights.

Peter Webb, of Upton-upon-Severn Town Council, said the decision to commit the funds from reserves was reprehensible and accused those responsible of spending public money without due care and diligence.

Members of the council’s hall and finance committee agreed to commit £25,000 for the new state-of-the-art lights and a huge Christmas tree on the riverside, but will also be receiving donations – potentially up to £6,000 – from the Upton Tourism and Trade Association (UTTA), which initiated the scheme, to offset some of the cost.

But Coun Webb said the decision was rushed through without proper checks, reporting requirements or any agreements to repay the funds to reserves.

He said he was staggered by the decision to shell out the money at one stroke when so many other areas of the town are in need.

“The open spaces committee has been asking for funds to refurbish the woefully inadequate children’s playground; the town band, mainly young people, are in dire financial straits; Upton in Bloom struggles year on year to find funds to enhance the town and encourage visitors; the library is at risk because of withdrawal of funds and the tourist information centre has lost its prime position in the town,” he said.

“This is public money being spent in an improvident manner without due care and diligence and which is even more reprehensible during these times of constraint and budgetary control.”

Speaking at a full council meeting, Coun Webb said the decision should be revoked unless the council wished to be “indicted by parishioners with their total lack of respect for their money and for the hard-working people whose money they are squandering.”

Coun Webb was told that as his comments were listed as a personal statement on the agenda, there would be no further discussion.

He has since submitted a list of questions on how the decision was taken and the specifics of the scheme to the hall and finance committee.

Town mayor Andrea Morgan was sorry to hear of Coun Webb’s disappointment, but said: “The decision to purchase the Christmas lights was taken legally and democratically.”

She said proper checks had been carried out, with most of the preliminary work being undertaken by UTTA which had met with the Christmas lights supplier and considered references.

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