Doncaster town's festive lights are causing dark tensions

Christmas may be a couple of months away but a row is rumbling around high street lights that is anything but festive.
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Councillors in Mexborough have called Doncaster Council out over the bill they were issued for checking, installation and removal of the Christmas lights in Mexborough High Street.

Projects funded from the ward councillors’ budget last year included Platinum Jubilee celebrations, a summer Superheroes Day and the Christmas lights, which cost a total of almost £9,000.

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This year’s Christmas lights switch-on is in the diary for November 30, but preparations are being overshadowed by the outstanding bill for last year’s.

A previous Christmas event in Mexborough.A previous Christmas event in Mexborough.
A previous Christmas event in Mexborough.

“There always seems to be an expectation that Mexborough will have all these lights, like it’s going to be like Blackpool,” said Mexborough First councillor Sean Gibbons.

“Unfortunately, last year, we got an estimated bill which we thought was going to be about £750, which was the previous year’s costs for contractors to put the lights up.

“Then someone came up with a silly figure and in the end, it came to just shy of £2,500.

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“Highways had put the lights up and took them down and charged us for the tie wraps, structural testing and everything else.

It’s a lot of money for your own highways teams to be charging, especially when we’ve got limited revenue.

“Our ward member budgets are not just for Christmas lights - there’s all sorts of other things we support, like defibrillators and pool tables and computers for the heritage society.”

The council’s bill included £1,500 for labour and hundreds more in parts.

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Coun Gibbons said Mexborough was handicapped by not having a parish council, which would be able to charge a precept and use the resulting takings to fund events.

“If we had the money coming in, it could go on Christmas lights, litter picking and so on, like other parishes and towns do,” he said.

Borough councillors have met senior directors to discuss the matter but Coun Gibbons said there had been no resolution to the issue, with DMBC still expecting borough councillors to foot a bill of hundreds of pounds.

Doncaster Council did not respond to a request for comment.

This article was originally published on September 8.