At last Thursday’s meeting of Forfar Community Council in the Town and County Hall, itself festooned with festive lights, there was some confusion as to what had happened to the money and if, indeed, it had been spent on this year’s display.
Angus Councillor Glennis Middleton told the meeting she was “at a loss” as to where the thousands of pounds had been spent.
This year it was agreed the lights were to be concentrated around the Cross, from the East and Old Parish Church up to New Road and down to Manor Street.
It was councillor Middleton’s understanding the roads department was to provide £6,000 and that £10,000 was to be made available from the Forfar Common Good Fund.
She said: “I appreciate the budget is extremely limited but at the same time Forfar members agreed to augment the fund by £10,000. I thought that was for this year to get some new lights around the Cross.
“Roads were putting in £6,000 to buy new lights and the decision was taken by Forfar members that we would start off with £10,000 for this year to augment that £6,000.
“The agreement was £10,000 for new lights, but I’m not seeing an extra £16,000 worth of lights.”
She added that in a previous year when £10,000 was given from the Forfar Common Good Fund for Christmas lights, it had disappeared “like sna’ aff a dyke!”
That year all the junction boxes had to be replaced and not one new bulb was bought.
This year the Forfar members had agreed that £10,000 was to be made available from the Forfar Common Good Fund for new lights, not repair work.
She added: “If repair work is required, they can come back and ask for that from the Forfar Common Good, but that £10,000 was for lights.”
Chairman Mrs Isobel Ross suggested that, as soon as the festive season was over, they should call a meeting with Angus Council’s lighting manager to clarify the situation.
Community councillor Avril Simpson stated she felt the lighting displays were “totally lacking in co-ordination”, with the “garish” LED lights on the Municipal Building and the Town and County Hall contrasting with the lights on the Christmas tree.
“If we had had the same lights on the tree then it would look a lot more co-ordinated. We are lacking in co-ordination compared to other towns.”
Mrs Ross referred to the £10,000 made available in the millennium year which was used to purchase “across the street” lighting, including thistle displays, and she asked where these had gone.
Councillor Middleton also pushed for a meeting in the new year to clarify what was needing to be spent on repairs, what new lights Forfar was getting and when.
A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “Angus Council officers had meetings with the community council and elected members in August when it was agreed that there would be up to £10k available to provide various festive decorations around the town centre.
“We purchased new curtain lights and icicles for Town & County Hall and for the Access office.
“It was also agreed to place decorative features, which had previously been located elsewhere, into this area.
“There was never an agreement to spend the whole £10k of Forfar Common Good Fund money, or the other £6k this year, but we have delivered what was agreed at the meeting in August.
“We do not have final figures for expenditure at this stage.”