A NUMBER of Christmas light displays across Bournemouth and Christchurch have been cancelled as the council looks to cut costs.
BCP Council confirmed that the £44,100 budget allocated to neighbourhood areas in Bournemouth would be removed from this winter onwards.
This impacts Christmas lighting and trees in the town centre, Old Christchurch Road, Westover Road, Commercial Road, Albert Road and in Kinson, Winton, Moordown, Charminster, Westbourne, Iford, Cooper Dean, Wallisdown roundabout, and Pokesdown.
In Christchurch, £7,500 for lighting and trees in the town centre, including the main tree outside the mayor’s parlour, has also been removed from 2023 onwards.
For this year, the £11,000 allocated to Christchurch Town Council will continue, as well as the contribution of £1,500 to Highcliffe, as agreed in 2021 for five years.
The council agreed funding should continue on this basis subject to Christmas Tree Wonderland and Poole’s Christmas Maritime Light Trail continuing.
As reported, the council faces a £44m gap in its finances and challenges to balance its budget.
This decision, made by the chief operations officer, will save £51,600 and would ‘help support the financial position of the Council’.
It added that the decision would mean there is a lighting offer in each of the three towns this year.
Cllr Andy Martin, portfolio holder for customer, communications and culture, said: “Unfortunately, the council is no longer able to fund its local Christmas lighting in some areas of Bournemouth and Christchurch in the same way as it has done before.
“We appreciate that this will be disappointing news, but the council made a commitment earlier this year to be transparent and proactive regarding its finances.
“The change in approach this year will save the council over £50,000, at a time when we’re needing to make hard choices to balance mounting pressure on our children’s and adult social care services.
“We do not underestimate the sense of celebration and joy Christmas brings to our communities, but we must balance this with our need to take a responsible approach to our financial commitments.
“We’ve already started conversations with Bournemouth Town Centre BID, the local Chambers of Trade and some Town and Parish Councils around this decision, and where possible we’ll also be working with the business community and representatives from local groups to look at how we can enable and empower them to take forward some of their great ideas and suggestions that this change of approach has prompted.
“Despite the financial pressures, BCP Council, working with others, is pleased to once again deliver two large-scale, family-friendly Christmas events in Bournemouth and Poole this year, whilst also making a financial contribution to Christchurch Town Council to support the delivery of their Christmas celebrations.
“Our Christmas Tree Wonderland event gets underway on Friday 17 November and runs right through to the new year. Poole Christmas Maritime Light Trail starts on Saturday 25 November and is once again set to impress visitors for over five festive weeks. Both well-loved, free events will provide local families and visitors a budget-friendly and memorable experience.”