Christmas lights funding extended

Councillors have agreed to continue funding Christmas lights for another year.

However, at the full council meeting on Tuesday councillors agreed to set up a cross party working group comprising two councillors from each party to look into establishing local area committees.

These area committees would then use what’s known as a participatory budgeting model to make decisions on some local spending in subsequent years, which could include Christmas lights.

Costs in excess of £70,000

Councillors heard providing the current Christmas lights service to 13 local communities is costing in excess of £70,000 a year.

Savings sought

The council’s head of finance, Gary Fairley was asked to provide a supplementary estimate of costs for this year. Communities will also be asked to help find savings in the Christmas lights budget this year. 

Local area committees

Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for commercial operations, Cllr John Hackett said: “We know our communities take a lot of pride in the Christmas lights and indeed their areas as a whole. I’m happy, therefore, to second Councillor Jim Muirhead’s motion to continue funding the lights for another year while we look into setting up local area committees.

Strain on reserves

“We are aware though that not making this £70,000 or so saving this year will put an extra strain on our reserves so we need to get a further costing on how we can find this money.”

Devolved decisions

Participatory budgeting allows the public to decide on the best way to distribute funds within their local community.

22 Aug 2018