REVEALED: How £35,000 of funding was spent on Christmas lights

Christmas lights
Christmas lights

A Freedom Of Information request has today (Wednesday) revealed how the organisers of last year’s Christmas lights in Boston spent £18,500 of a £35,000 cash injection on just one projection scheme in the town.

The FOI request to the borough council’s Boston Town Area Committee (BTAC) asked for an itemised breakdown of the grant it gave to the Boston Town Team, backed by Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce.

The breakdown of the £35,000 grant given to Boston Town Team, backed by Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce.

The breakdown of the £35,000 grant given to Boston Town Team, backed by Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce.

The response, which was taken from the Chamber of Commerce’s own figures, reveals that a further £6,000 was spent on the second projection scheme.

The more expensive of the two projections shone from Boots/Cancer Research onto the former Exhange Buildings and included professional designs. It’s costs include a total of £14,400 for the projection, £1,350 for the lenses, £750 for the playback, £1,500 for the content creation and £500 to be installed.

The £6,000 projection included designs from local residents and shone from Oldrids onto Vision Express. That projection cost £4,800, with lenses at £450 and a ‘playback’ cost of £750.

£7,600 of the money was spent on lighting up roads and lanes in the town - with £3,600 spent on West Street/High Street, and £1,000 each spent on Emery Lane, Church Street/Church Lane, Dolphin Lane and Womgate - no mention is made in the breakdown of the Market Place.

One of the community made projections used this Christmas. These were designed by residents of Boston, while another projection on the former Exchange building was designed professionally.

One of the community made projections used this Christmas. These were designed by residents of Boston, while another projection on the former Exchange building was designed professionally.

Other costs totted up to £2,900 and broke down into a £1,750 charge for ‘project management’, £650 insurance charges, £250 pre-installation testing and £250 for transport and parking.

Last February, BTAC agreed to allocate £35,000 towards a Christmas lights project after Boston Borough Council decided there were no funds in its coffers.

The money was given to the Boston Town Team – backed by Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce – which then decided how the money would be spent. This included the projectors to showcase images onto buildings in the town. But critics, although enjoying the lead-up to the lights switch on - including the Illuminate parade - decried the lack of traditional festive lights.

A recent lengthy post-mortem in February agreed that a ‘non-council attended committee be formed, supported by BTAC in administration and set up’.

At the meeting BTAC chairman Nigel Welton looked to turn the tables on the businesses for a lack of support, declaring they should be ‘ashamed of themselves’.

He said: “It’s always the council that gets bad publicity. The Town Team, Chamber of Commerce, businesses, they got no bad publicity, no public hangings.

“That was disgraceful, all we heard was that the council should be ashamed of themselves. And, do you know what? I don’t want that again.”

The Christmas lights display was subjected to criticism from the public and drew the attention of the national press.

“The TV, radio, all of the pundits that spoke about this project were very clear in their condemnation,” said Coun Brian Rush at the same meeting. “I am fed up to the back teeth with this town getting bad press.”

Anyone wishing to join the community committee should contact Janette Collier on 01205 314227 or email janette.collier@boston.gov.uk

For more on this story, see this week’s paper and keep an eye online.