Cash-stapped council scale back Christmas

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By Cara Sulieman

A CASH-STRAPPED Scots council are cutting back on Christmas in a bid to save money.

The City of Edinburgh Council has cancelled a raft of events for this year’s festive season including the popular Great Scottish Santa Fun Run.

The major cut backs come as after the council went more than £100,000 over budget on last year’s holiday celebrations.

As part of the cuts, all events that happened in West Princes Street Gardens have been axed.

As well as the Santa run, this includes Santa and his reindeer and the Santa Express train line.

It is down to a massive reduction in sponsorship that has resulted in the total funding for this year to be cut by a third.

But Steve Cardownie, the Fetsivals and Events Champion for the City of Edinburgh, promised that Christmas would still be special in the capital.

He said: “Clearly, given the difficult financial climate, we are obliged to cut our cloth accordingly while continuing to provide an exciting programme with all of our core elements including a new improved ice rink, our Traditional German Christmas Market and the Highland Village along with the Edinburgh Wheel.

“We are currently in productive talks with a number of prospective sponsors which will bring additional features to the core programme.

“Edinburgh’s Christmas 2010 promises to be a dazzling event with something for all the family to enjoy.

“This year’s Edinburgh’s Christmas programme will boast an enhanced ice rink, complete with an entertainment stage to get skaters and shoppers into the festive spirit.

“As well as enjoying the many funfair rides, children can come and meet Santa Claus in the Traditional Highland Village, where he’ll be popping in to collect his letters in the lead up to Christmas.”

Just £7,500 of private sponsorship has been secured by the council this year and the Scottish Government are expected to contribute a further £20,000.

Last year, a total of £112,968 of sponsorship was raised for the celebrations.

Just £567,249 has been raised for this year’s festivities and last year a whopping £811,414 was pumped into the events.

The city council has cut their contribution by £25,000.

But Ron Hewitt, chief executive of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said the cuts wouldn’t stop people from having a good Christmas.

He added: “I am sure business will understand if the council has to pull back the amount it is spending.

“As a consumer, enjoying Christmas is not about how much you spend.

“If we stop being totally focused on money, a meaningful Christmas festival is about much more than how much people spend.”

Nickie Gott, managing director of Edinburgh’s Christmas producer She’s Gott It, said: “We are hoping to move elements whenever possible and Santa will definitely be there.”

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