There was a lack of festive spirit at Rother District Council as the local authority rejected a village’s bid for funding towards its Christmas lights for the second time.
Salehurst and Robertsbridge Parish Council had asked RDC for £496 towards Christmas tree lighting along Station Road, Robertsbridge.
Rother turned down the application last month, claiming it could set a precedent and open the floodgates for similar applications.
But those who support the scheme say a precedent had already been set, with Rye, Ticehurst and Sidley among the towns and villages receiving Rother funding for Christmas lights in the past.
The application was brought back before the council this week.
Speaking at a Rother District Council meeting on Monday (September 28),Cllr Kathryn Field, (Lib Dem, Battle) said she was ‘quite frankly shocked’ the grant had not been approved, arguing RDC should support the regeneration of towns and villages.
She added: “As far as the comment that it would open the floodgates, well I think that’s nonsense. This should be considered on its merits.”
Councillors heard Salehurst and Robertsbridge Parish Council, local businesses and villagers had contributed to the lights fund, as required by the application criteria.
But Cllr Tony Ganly (Cons, Ewhurst and Sedlescombe), said: “I think we have to look rather carefully with regards to Christmas lights.
“It’s the Bexhill taxpayer who pays for the lights through the precept.
“It’s unfair to the people of Bexhill to say ‘you pay for your own while we pay for Robertsbridge’.”
He asked why the money could not be found from parish council reserves before adding: “The money could be found elsewhere.”
Speaking after the meeting, Salehurst parish and district councillor Sue Prochak said: “I still cannot understand why they have not given it.
“We fulfil the criteria with the parish council match funding and it is a very small amount for the pleasure it gives the community and the whole village.”
Cllr Kevin Dixon (Lib Dem, Battle) added: “The decision seemed to be on cabinet members’ opinions rather than whether they have fulfilled the criteria.”
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