Will Tyne and Wear councils need to cut on Christmas events this year?

christmas sunderland

Figures, revealed by SR News Freedom of Information request, show that the five council authorities in Tyne and Wear: South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle and Sunderland have spent a combined total of £1,584,418 over the last five years.

The FOI request also revealed that South Tyneside Council tops the list after spending a sparkling £468,500 on their Christmas lights. The figures also revealed that the borough council spent £91,477 on Christmas events.

Newcastle City Council came second, after the FOI figures show an expenditure of £443,000 on Christmas Lights across the city during the last five years. It is also reported that the Newcastle Council did not spend any money on Christmas Events such as markets and switch on ceremonies for the Christmas lights.

The council has also disclosed that no money had been given to any of the participants in the last five years, such as Metro Radio breakfast presenters Steve and Karen, who switched on the city’s famous festive lights in 2014 and 2015.

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said: “The lights are procured on a three-year rental basis and re-procured at the end of each three-year period.

“The lights are installed in the city centre at St Mary’s Place in the north, to the Quayside in the south, Percy Street in the west, to Northumberland Street in the east. There is also a Christmas lights switch-on event at Grey’s Monument (which was on Thursday, November 19, 2015).”

Sunderland City Council came third after spending £317,757 on Christmas lights, while they came top for spending a whopping £108,897 on Christmas events.

A spokesman for Sunderland City Council said: “The City Council has installed lights and illuminations across the city centre through Fawcett Street, Holmeside, Burdon Road and the High Street in previous years. Lights have also been placed in Mowbray Park, and switch-ons in the past have been held at the Civic Centre.

“The council and its partners have stock of lights that can be used again and again, and these are replaced and updated when necessary.

“And it has been recognised for many years that Christmas lights and events are an integral part of the festive season across all of Sunderland. With the opening of Keel Square, the city has a new public space that can be the focus of more festive activities this year.

“For 2015, a wide range of Christmas-themed events and attractions are planned.”

North Tyneside Council had spent £279,609 on its Christmas Lights, plus £53,054 on Christmas events held in the coastal borough.

Victoria Taylor, Commercial and Redesign Officer for North Tyneside Council, said: “Each year the council provides festive lighting to each of its four main town centres: Tynemouth, Whitley Bay, North Shields and Wallsend. The lights are hired for three years and after this time they are refreshed to provide a new scheme to the area.

“We provide Christmas trees to the town centres, roundabouts across the borough and several community trees – a total of 16 fully dressed trees in North Tyneside.

“Many of the community groups have their own switch on event that SSE attend and arrange.

“We have not had to reduce the Christmas budget in previous years. However, with the pressures facing the Council next year, we are preparing to review the current offer and where savings could be made if necessary.”

In Gateshead, it was revealed that they had spent £75,552 on Christmas lights, but had not spent anything on Christmas events held over the last five years.

Victoria Beattie, Service Director Construction at Gateshead Council, said: “Due to massive and rapid reductions in our funding from central government over the last five years, we have needed to prioritise our spending on frontline services rather than non-essential expenditure.

“Since 2010, we have had to find savings of over £110 million, and we estimate that we will have a further funding gap of £50 million over the next two years. In these challenging financial times, it is no longer possible for us to centrally fund Christmas lights.”

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  1. Pingback: Will Tyne and Wear councils need to cut on Christmas events this year? – Kris Tatum – trainee journalist

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