Christmas cheer to return for one more festive season
TOWN centres across Neath Port Talbot will keep their full festive sparkle this year.
But council bosses have warned there could be full cuts next year — leaving Neath, Port Talbot and Pontardawe without any Christmas cheer at all.
Because of cuts imposed on public service expenditure, a reduction of £15,000 had been proposed.
Councillors were told in a report in September that if the budget was reduced from £88,000 to £73,000 then it would have an effect on the amount of lights that could be provided.
The report also noted that, due to financial pressures, the council may need to consider withdrawing from providing festive lighting completely in 2014.
But in a complete turnaround, the authority has now decided to continue the full complement of lighting across the three towns for this festive season.
Council leader, Ali Thomas, said: "We looked at the proposals but felt that we should continue as usual for this year to provide some festive cheer which would be welcome in the middle of this economic gloom."
The council will be holding meetings with the relevant chambers of trade and town councils in the New Year to discuss future years after funding has been finalised.
"There is no denying that tough decisions will have to be made in the coming months given the financial situation councils are facing," added Mr Thomas.
The news has been welcomed by traders across the three towns.
Steve Garvey, president of Port Talbot Chamber, which was formed this year and fought for a two-day Christmas event, said the news was a third win for the new group.
"Owing to the council's sensible approach, the chamber is ecstatic for the people of Port Talbot, to see that the Christmas lights this year are going to be as festive as always.
"I've seen them start to put some of them up today in the town.
Pontardawe Chamber of Trade chairman John Jones said it was good news that the lights would be kept for another year.
But said he'd be unable to comment on future provision until the chamber had sat down with council officers to discuss the budget issues.