Was it worth it? Taxpayers disagree.
Every year, Burton and Swadlincote in England light up the night sky with their festive switch-on events. Thousands of people flock to both town centers to mark the start of the season – complete with festivals, Christmas markets, Christmas lights displays and fireworks. But how much does this cost the taxpayer? Using a Freedom of Information request, we found out that South Derbyshire District Council and East Staffordshire Borough Council are responsible for organizing both events, with health and safety being one of the main concerns in not using fireworks in Swadlincote this time.
How much did the councils spent on Christmas lights and entertainment for their 2022 switch-on events, as well as their electricity bill for having the festive displays lit up in December and January? In total, both local authorities spent just under £60,000, which is around $74,000.
East Staffordshire said that due to “commercial sensitive” information being shared with suppliers, they could not provide a breakdown of the figures. However, they did say they spent £37,735 or $46,000 on the light switch-on and decorations.
Over in South Derbyshire, the council revealed it spent £21,681, which is approximately $26,500, on Christmas lights – this included installation costs of £13,343, dismantling costs of £5,718, and £2,620 for lights and decorations. It also spent £8,570 (plus VAT) on its entertainment at the switch-on event which featured illuminated street performers, stage lighting, music, a live band, compere and face painters – all free for the public to attend.
The council added that there was no electric cost to them as the Christmas lights are low energy and powered from the town centre lighting electric network.