Community input sought to fund next year’s Christmas lights

Erika Baines, from Barcaldine Primary School, and Freya Felgate, from Park Primary, had the important task of turning on this year's Christmas lights. The pair won the Rotary Club of Oban's Christmas card competition. 17_T48_WinterFestival20
Erika Baines, from Barcaldine Primary School, and Freya Felgate, from Park Primary, had the important task of turning on this year's Christmas lights. The pair won the Rotary Club of Oban's Christmas card competition. 17_T48_WinterFestival20

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Thousands of people watched on Saturday as this year’s Christmas lights were switched on in Oban.

However, to illuminate the town next year, a community-wide fundraising campaign might be in order.

In a bid to save money, Argyll and Bute Council will no longer be funding the festive decorations, as it faces a budget gap of £7.9 million this year.

Andrew Spence, chief executive of BID4Oban, said: ‘While disappointing it is understandable given the cuts to many of the council’s budgets and services.’

‘Next year, 2020, the major challenge will be funding the installation of festive lights and trees across Oban,’ Mr Spence added.

‘It is confirmed that Argyll and Bute Council will still allow us to install the existing fittings, however these are now fast approaching the end of their usable life. We need new lights. There are many new and improved lighting designs that can be accommodated in Oban, however they come at a cost.

‘BID4Oban works on a tight, limited budget which comes from the business community of Oban’s 556 businesses.

‘Given that Argyll and Bute Council will no longer fund festive lighting it is essential that funding is sourced to ensure that Oban has a fantastic festive display next year and ongoing that is the envy of every town in Argyll.

‘It would be great to see amazing displays on George Street, Esplanade, Argyll and Station Squares, Albany Street and Combie Street.

‘If you have any ideas or solutions how to fund the future of Christmas Lights in Oban, please contact BID4Oban via email info@bid4oban.co.uk as We need to start planning now.’

BID4Oban already plays a part in the festive decorations – for the last two years the council has given the organisation a grant to install them. However, there was no room in the budget for replacing or enhancing lights.

The council has been responsible for providing the Christmas trees in Argyll Square, Stafford Street, top end of George Street and corner of Lochavullin Road and Crannog Lane.

‘It is likely that BID4Oban will have to pick up the costs for the installation of the trees during this and future years,’ Mr Spence said.

BID4Oban receive a grant to fund the lights on the main tree, while the solar powered trees on lamposts are fully funded by the organisation.

Oban Community Council agreed to put their thinking caps on when they were informed of the situation by Mr Spence at Monday night’s monthly meeting.

The community council said they could contribute a small amount towards the purchasing of new lights and restoration of others, but that a town-wide funding campaign was needed.

Community councillor George Berry said: ‘Christmas is a very special time of year for many and goes a long way to lifting spirits and brightening up the town. We really have to make sure that Oban continues to sparkle at this time of year.’