Christmas lights cancelled in Medway in 'sad and difficult' Labour council decision

christmas lights pa
Five towns won't have any Christmas lights switch-on events Credit: PA

Five towns won't be feeling quite as festive this year with a council announcing that its Christmas lights aren't going up.

The decision has been described as 'sad and difficult' but comes in the face of challenging financial circumstances.

As a result there won't be any switch-on events which usually drive people onto High Streets to support traders.

However, residents are told other festivities will stake place and Christmas trees will still be going up.

Medway council's Labour leader released a lengthy statement explaining the decision which will impact Gillingham, Rochester, Strood, Rainham and Chatham.

Councillor Vince Maple said, “Unfortunately due to the challenging financial situation the council is in, we have had to make the sad and difficult decision to not have Christmas lights across Medway this year. This means there will sadly be no switch-on events held in the town centres this year.

“I know how disappointing this will be for many families, residents and businesses, including myself who enjoyed attending the event with my family, but the reality of the situation is that we unfortunately have no choice but to make these tough decisions."

Medway Council, which turned from Conservative to Labour in May this year, says it is one of the lowest funded authorities in the country.

Medway Council Credit: ITV News

The administration says its revenue support grant has been cut by 91% since 2010 with future budgets forecast to have a potential £17 million overspend.

Cutting the Christmas lights will save £75,000. Councillor Maple added,"Wwe are left with no choice but to make these incredibly difficult decisions as a Cabinet, and with our council colleagues and partners, to reduce the potential overspend and to ensure we can continue to provide essential services that we are required to provide by law, such as social care, waste collections and housing.

"We are continuing to explore savings options whilst providing an excellent service and support system for our vulnerable residents."

"There is still much for all our residents to enjoy in the run up to Christmas this year. I am pleased local ward councillors are still able to fund a Christmas tree in each town, and that the character meet and greets will still be taking place in Gillingham, Strood and Rainham libraries for Medway’s young people, as well as a Christmas parade in Chatham on Saturday, 18 November."

"Medway has thousands of local businesses, including a wonderful range of bespoke shops, so please do shop local where you’re able to in the run-up to Christmas. Medway also has fantastic charity shops giving residents the opportunity to bag a bargain and give to worthy causes. It’s Small Business Saturday coming up on 2 December and a great excuse to shop in Medway."

Three weekends of Rochester’s Christmas Market, a new magical children’s Christmas village in Rochester Castle Grounds, the Dickensian Christmas Festival, Victorian traditions at Eastgate House, naughty elves on shelves at The Guildhall Museum and the annual pantomime at The Central Theatre in Chatham will still be taking place.

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