Trader’s anger at bill for Caledonian Road Christmas lights
�Christmas displays will light up Caledonian Road but one trader is furious at having to donate cash for the festive decorations.
Islington Council announced last Christmas that it would stop paying for festive lighting this year in order to save �45,000 towards the �100million cutbacks in funding from central government cash between now and 2015.
And it has left traders, councillors and Team Cally festival organisers in Caledonian Road having to raise several thousands of pounds for Christmas lights for the street this year.
Matthew Jordan-Jones, co-owner of Scarlet and Hollywood hairdressers in Caledonian Road, donated �50 but slammed the administration for not forking out. He said: “It is bah humbug because traders were effectively forced into paying.
“I pay around �7,000 a year in rates and tax and should not have to give another �50.
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“Businesses are struggling and this sends out the wrong message.
“Christmas lights have a psychological impact and make people want to spend. You can’t have a street without them.”
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As revealed by the Gazette last week, staff at the Nag’s Head shopping centre in Holloway Road, Holloway, have so far been unable to find the �25,000 funding for the Christmas lights there.
Although its festive extravaganza will still go ahead, there will be no lights unless a generous donor comes up with the money by Monday.
Caledonian Road councillor Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for planning, regeneration and transport, said: “The vast majority of traders understand that these are tough times for the council and can see the benefit of making this small contribution.
“We had to make cuts and some things have a higher priority.
“I am sympathetic with business owners who pay their rates but although the council collects this money it goes straight to the government.”
Mohamed Hammoudan, neighbourhood coordinator for Team Cally, said: “We made a concerted effort for the lights and had a fantastic response from the traders.
“We realise the council is having to make hard decisions.”
A Christmas switch-on event in Caledonian Road is also planned.