Sunderland’s super-low £39,000 spend on Christmas lights – too much, too little or just right?

SWITCH ON .....Christmas tree lights switched on at Sunderland Civic Centre, 2012.
SWITCH ON .....Christmas tree lights switched on at Sunderland Civic Centre, 2012.
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SUNDERLAND City Council spent £39,000 on Christmas lights last year - one of the lowest in the region.

Bosses at Newcastle City Council forked out £140,000, while neighbouring borough South Tyneside Council spent £200,000.

SWITCH ON .....Christmas tree lights switched on at Sunderland Civiv Centre, 2012.

SWITCH ON .....Christmas tree lights switched on at Sunderland Civiv Centre, 2012.

The figure is similar to the amount spent in 2011.

Cabinet member for public health, wellness and culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “The Christmas lights and decorations in Sunderland city centre this year as part of the popular annual celebrations were provided from our existing stock.

“The total cost for installing and then taking down the lights and Christmas trees will be in the region of £39,000.”

More than 15,000 people watched as Tom Lister, who played Carl King in Emmerdale, joined Olympians Jill Scott and Kat Driscoll to switch the lights on in November last year.

After the switch-on Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Iain Kay said: “There is a real buzz about the city. There’s a real sense of excitement. It’s just been superb.”

In addition to the lights which lined many of the city’s streets there were festive displays in Mowbray Park, which included a live herd of reindeer, and a Christmas tree at the Civic Centre provided by the City Council of Stavanger, Norway.

Elsewhere Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and Carlisle City Council spent £50,000 and £37,900 respectively.

“The City Council’s budget for 2013/2014 has not yet been finalised so no decision has been taken on spending for the 2013 Christmas lights,” added Coun Kelly.

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The people of Sunderland gave their thoughts on the council’s Christmas lights spending.

Edward Mahoney, 69, of Tunstall, said: “That’s Sunderland for you, it’s always going down hill. They should be spending more to get people into the town to use the shops because they go off to other places - we haven’t got the displays we have.

“They only do the main streets now, that’s about it - one time they were in all of the streets.”

Jan Jolliffe, 53, of West Boldon, said: “I think they’ve done about their usual displays.

“People want them, and even though I’m not bothered about them, I think it’s OK to reuse them. The councils go with what the majority want - and the majority want lights.”

George Henry, 64, of Hendon, said: “I think that’s about right to put a few lights up.

“I noticed that what we did wasn’t as good as it’s been. I think people enjoy it, it brings people into the city, especially on a night time - you can have look round and get something to eat.”

Christine Smith, 64, of Roker, said: “I think that is a reasonable amount to spend.

“They weren’t four times worse than the ones in Newcastle, for what it’s cost them they have got a pretty good deal.

“I was particularly impressed with the ones in Roker Park actually, I would like to see them up over the Christmas period as well.”