SELKIRK has been forced to adopt a Heath Robinson approach to the switch-on of its new Christmas lights, writes Kenny Paterson.
An Awards for All grant of £8,909 means the Royal Burgh will shine brightly this festive period, but only thanks to town centre homeowners and businesses allowing the bulbs to be connected to their private power supply.
Scottish Borders Council has so far refused to allow new power points to be installed in order for the decorations to be linked into its street lighting system, despite the Christmas committee offering to pay for its usage.
Community council chairman Graham Easton told TheSouthern: “It is a strange situation to be in. We are trying to promote the town but we cannot get access to the grid.
“It means the committee have to ask private households and businesses for power. We have had this problem with both Scott’s Selkirk and the Christmas lights.
“I don’t think it is a cost issue, more red tape which is holding it back.
“This has been going on for years and been accepted, but I don’t think it is acceptable.”
Tommy Combe, who helps organise the December light-up each year, said they currently subsidise homeowners and shops to supply the electricity.
He added: “I had a meeting with the council’s lighting department about putting in lights at The Green.
“We were prepared to put boxes in ourselves or supply the boxes and timers for the council to fit.
“But we were told we could not get power off the council.”
A council spokeswoman said it is upgrading existing points throughout the Borders to supply community festive lighting.
However, she added: “The project is not for the purpose of providing new power supply points as is the case in Selkirk. However, officers managing the project would be happy to discuss and provide advice to the organisers in Selkirk.”