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“Barmy” Hackney Council under fire for “excessive” Christmas light expenditure

PUBLISHED: 18:08 23 December 2011 | UPDATED: 13:54 28 December 2011

Cllr Linda Kelly

Cllr Linda Kelly

Archant

Hackney Council has defended its decision to spend £165,000 on Christmas lights in a time of austerity, claiming they wanted to encourage shoppers to stay local, rather than migrate to the new Westfield shopping centre.

Hackney Council has defended its decision to spend £165,000 on Christmas lights in a time of austerity, claiming they wanted to encourage shoppers to stay local, rather than migrate to the new Westfield shopping centre.

While other neighbouring boroughs have slashed spending on Christmas lights this year, the council maintained it was important to support local businesses during tough times - and providing a brighter festive environment contributed to this.

“The lights and decorations displayed at 16 shopping areas around the borough are well received locally and complement our ‘Love Hackney, Shop Local’ campaign, asking residents, visitors and those who work in the borough to support local shops and markets” said Cllr Feryal Demirci, cabinet member for neighbourhoods in a statement.

But Cllr Linda Kelly questioned why Hackney - which made £44 million cuts this year – had not been as thrifty as Tower Hamlets which spent £50,000 and Islington which spent just £45,000.

“Where do they get off commenting about bankers and unfair cuts in the budget, when this amount is money is wasted on lights?” she asked.

“They are barmy, show me anyone in Hackney who would rather have lights, than a youth centre, nursery or something for the elderly,” she said.

“Are they trying to say only Hackney cares for their constituents, compared to the other boroughs which have cut their expenditure and diverted the money saved to services and jobs?

“This is the Labour Group spin, rather than admitting they have got it very wrong,” she added.

A council spokeswoman said the higher cost covered installation, maintenance, electricity and removal.

“Also, Hackney does not receive sponsorship from traders,” she said, adding that the cost is currently under review.


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