Row breaks out over Clitheroe's Christmas decorations

A local businessman has admitted being responsible for a banner criticising an illuminated festive sign erected by Clitheroe Town Council wishing people a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 4th December 2018, 4:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th December 2018, 9:30 am
The Christmas decoration erected by Clitheroe Town Council.

Matthew Taylor, who runs the curiosity shop The Time Train in Clitheroe, has described the town council's sign across Castlegate as "obnoxious" and, in response, erected a banner saying "what the council meant to say was Merry Christmas from the PEOPLE of Clitheroe".

His banner was erected on the railings outside Santander bank, but after causing a stir, with many people commenting on social media, the banner has mysteriously disappeared.

Matthew told the Clitheroe Advertiser that he was angered by the town council's sign as it's "the people of the town who are the voice that elects the town council" and any sign should therefore reflect local residents' best wishes.

The banner erected by Matthew Taylor.

"It's just highlighted the current state of affairs and the fact that they don't care for people - they just want gratitude and praise," said Matt, who plans to stand in next year's local government elections.

"I’m passionate about our little town," said Matthew in a Facebook post, "and it’s slowly losing its identity.

"So agree or disagree, the banner highlighted a point I feel many people share.

"I've actually decided to run for local election next May. This town needs a really good shake up and I want to be involved with that. Out with the old. Time for some new blood!"

He added that local residents should also have been consulted about the Christmas decorations and what the sign said.

"I travel up and down the country with my work and I've never, ever, seen a sign like this wishing visitors to a town a 'Merry Christmas' from the town council!"

However, Clitheroe Town Councillor Mary Robinson defended the decoration and welcomed local residents to attend the regular town council meetings - the next one in January - if they want more say on local matters.

Coun. Robinson said that by naming Clitheroe Town Council on the sign, local residents are clear who is responsible for the decorations and aware how some of their council tax is being spent.

She explained that a local council tax payer living in a band B property contributes £16-56 a year for services carried out by the town council and that some of this money is used to pay for the town's Christmas decorations. Donations towards the decorations also come from private individuals and Ribble Valley Borough Council gave a grant towards the cost.

Meanwhile, local businesses are asked to contribute £30 towards the cost of having a small Christmas tree erected outside their business with the expenses incurred to erect the trees and connect them to the electrics again paid for out of residents' council tax contributions.

Coun. Robinson added that the town's Christmas decorations take months of planning and organisation by the town council's administration team.