Council to provide £11,000 of Christmas lights power

Communities had been faced with paying for their own electricity for Christmas lights and other displays
Communities had been faced with paying for their own electricity for Christmas lights and other displays

North-east communities are rejoicing after Aberdeenshire Council agreed to provide £11,000 worth of electricty for Christmas lights.

There had been fears that community groups would be left to cover electricity costs for festive lights - potentially calling time on many displays.

Now, however, the cost of electricity to power festive lighting will continue to be covered by the local authority after a new approach was agreed by councillors.

Members of the Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) gave the go ahead to a new policy aimed at ensuring a reasonable, consistent and safe approach to requests from community groups.

Hanging baskets, banners and bunting are also covered by the new rules, as well as attachments to street lighting columns, such as signs.

Councillors heard the use of festive lighting, bunting, banners and hanging baskets can help encourage commercial activity in towns, add seasonal colour and help promote community events.

ISC previously considered proposals which would have seen community groups covering electricity costs for festive lights, hearing there was strong opposition to this from local councillors and groups.

Members asked officers to revisit the plans, setting up a working group to further investigate the potential impacts of the proposals.

An engagement meeting was held with groups in April where a number of concerns were raised and consideration of these led to changes to the proposed policy. Electricity supplied through the public street lighting network will not be charged for and the council will now perform technical assessments on the suitability of lighting columns and advise community groups after it had been initially proposed that applicants would have to perform these safety tests themselves.

Applications for festive lighting installations can now be submitted by October 1.

There will be restrictions on installations outwith main footfall areas, but an arrangement to allow the use of festive lights featuring the branding of commercial organisations will be extended by a year.

ISC chair, Councillor Peter Argyle, said: “The cost of electricity for festive lighting in Aberdeenshire is around £11,000 and that seems a small price to pay for the goodwill of communities making the effort to brighten themselves up and appear welcoming at Christmas – we recognise a lot of organisation and effort goes into this already. The excellent work communities do is clearly of benefit to the whole of Aberdeenshire and the cost is one we can bear.”