Criticism of Guiseley Christmas lights display is rebutted

Wharfedale Observer: Councillor Graham Latty Councillor Graham Latty

A councillor has defended Guiseley’s Christmas decorations after they were described as “stark and dismal”.

Graham Latty said he and his two fellow ward councillors spent around £6,000 on decorations each year.

He was responding to criticism from Guiseley resident Anne Waite who contacted this newspaper to ask why there had been no festive light switch on in the town.

She said that a number of big national retailers – including Morrisons, Argos, M&S, Boots, TK Maxx and Asda – had outlets in the town. “Would it not be too much to ask them to dig into their extremely full pockets and all make a contribution in making a shopping experience in Guiseley a memorable occasion, instead of the stark and dismal festive display that currently lines the Main Street?” she asked.

She said she had spoken to other people in the town and they agreed that the lights were poor compared to other areas.

But Coun Latty said the controlling group on Leeds City Council had decided to stop funding Christmas lights in the outlying areas three years ago.

He said: “We ward councillors have to find the money to pay for whatever we can afford out of what is called Well-being Money. This is money we can spend on things that should improve life in our communities.

“We spend about £6,000 on the decorations each year and this allows us to put lights in trees on Rawdon Green, in a tree outside Micklefield House and in the willow tree on the gyratory in Guiseley.

“We manage a tree with lights near the sheltered bungalows at the top of Rawdon, and this year a tree in the Memorial Garden which will shortly have lights. Finally, we have six motifs on lamp posts on the A65 opposite Morrisons - these by the way cost £180 each.”

He added: “Two years ago we wrote to all the businesses on that strip of road asking for help with funding. We had an offer from only two businesses.”

“We have not approached the big retail parks as they are well away from the heart of Guiseley and would reap no benefit from such a donation, and when businesses spend money on this sort of thing they want to see some return for the investment.”

He said the ward councillors would be delighted if readers could find a way of encouraging businesses to pay for more lights in Guiseley.

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