Leeds' Christmas lights cash is protected from cuts

LEEDS has not lost its sparkle this Christmas despite economic cuts as the council has protected spending on festive decorations.

Date: 10th November 2016. Picture James Hardisty. Leeds Christmas Lights Switch On.

The authority has spent around the same amount on lights as last year - £525,969 - and in some areas such as Wakefield the budget has even increased.

Last year we revealed how spending on the festive season had plummeted to a fraction of what it was five years ago as councils bore the brunt of cuts.

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But this year figures, released after a Freedom of Information request, show festive season funding has been spared.

Leeds Council spent £525,969. which includes staffing costs and the costs of all switch-on events. Although it is still down from the £663,834 in 2009 when the recession had just begun to bite, it is a little up on last year when the authority spent £510,234.

Wakefield Council spent £138,000 last year, but this year the estimated cost is £213,000 which includes £30,000 sponsorship for new lights over a three-year deal and around £30,000 to maintain good health and safety standards across the Christmas lights stock.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said they spent just 70p per person on Christmas lights and with budgets continuing to be tight, they were always looking at how they could ensure their lights display continued to be enjoyed.

He said: “Our Christmas lights switch-on brings tens of thousands of people and families together at the heart of the city and despite budget pressures, we’re committed to finding innovative ways to ensure the festive season continues to be a special time for Leeds.”

Sarah Pearson, service director for economic growth and housing at Wakefield Council, said the Christmas lights in the district were enjoyed by hundreds of residents and visitors and they supported businesses in city and town centres.

The FOI request was carried out by www.lightbulbs-direct.com