Let there be light at Christmas

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A £60,000 Christmas lights fund is up for grabs for South Ayrshire villages and towns needing and where the cash goes will be decided by council officials.

The move was approved at South Ayrshire Council’s full council meeting after a heated clash between rival councillors.

Councillor Hugh Hunter put forward a motion for £50,000 cash to be distributed with a maximum of £5,000 going to each town and £2,000 for villages. He said communities faced a major challenge to raise money for lights and the council’s “huge” underspend should be used to pay for the festive displays.

But his seasonal gesture was snubbed by ruling councillors who backed an amendment from Councillor Alec Clark to make £60,000 available instead.

Independent Councillor Clark said: “We will try and bring some joy into people’s lives.”

His amendment said: “With this fund it is important that the funding does not supplant or compete with the work that has been taking place over a number of years.”

Conservative Councillor Hunter questioned how communities were supposed to apply for the cash but was told there wouldn’t be an application process.

Labour Councillor Brian McGinley said: “There has been an issue with Christmas lights over a number of years. We don’t want to undo the good work already going on in the community.

“We will talk to people about the current arrangements and do what we can.”

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Hunter said: “It wasn’t clear how communities could access it. It is really foggy and disappointing that we couldn’t get to the bottom of it.”

Councillor Bob Pollock said he is concerned “some areas may miss out,” adding there was “no coherent explanation” on how the money would be “decided or managed” with only six weeks until switch on