Plans to cut back Broughty Ferry’s “hugely popular” Christmas celebrations have been branded “vindictive and short-sighted”.
Dundee City Council yesterday revealed plans to make the city centre the focal point for future festivities in an attempt to mirror success seen in places such as Edinburgh and Glasgow.
It would mean the local authority, which currently pays for and installs trees and decorations, would no longer be involved in organising events for each district.
Instead places such as The Ferry, Stobswell, Lochee and the West End would need to apply for cash and organise events themselves.
Ferry councillor Craig Duncan claims the move would be “grossly unfair” and would punish local businesses and residents.
He said: “The festivities in the Ferry are very, very popular indeed and bring in a lot of money to local businesses.
“It feels vindictive. The area brings in a lot of council tax and lots of visitors to all of Dundee so it’s very short-sighted.
“I would have thought if something is working well then don’t try to change it.
“I’m absolutely certain that The Ferry will still put on a great Christmas celebration despite the best efforts of the council.”
The plans will go before councillors on the recovery sub-committee on Monday night.
Each of the six areas which currently have a tree installed each year would need to apply to a new £50,000 joint Hogmanay and Christmas fund to put on its own celebrations.
Under the current system, £73,000 is available with Seabraes, Stobswell, Westport, and Whitfield receiving £8,000 each.
Broughty Ferry receives £30,000 and Lochee gets £11,000.
Thousands usually visit the Ferry for the switching on of Christmas lights with the Broughty Ferry Traders’ Association helping organise and provide extra funds.
Under the new plan, the council would concentrate its efforts on putting on an “enhanced” programme for the city centre.
Some suggestions include bespoke projections on Reform Street, interactive artwork in City Square, and a festive shop window trail.
The events, which would likely not include a lights-switch on this year, would be designed to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
The cost would be £151,000, an increase from the £108,000 usually earmarked for the city centre.
West End councillor Fraser Macpherson also said he is against the move.
He said: “To lose these celebrations in the West End and elsewhere permanently would be quite sad.
“I know there won’t be any big lights switch-on events this year because of Covid-19 so I can understand if it was temporary for 2020.
“But these celebrations could be lost forever.
“Support from the council has been absolutely vital for Christmas across the city.
“I think there is a real need for compromise here.”
However, Colin Clement, from the Stobswell Forum, said the plan sounds good “in principle”.
“More control to communities sounds like a good thing to me,” he said.
“We have been approached by local businesses over the past 18 months who want to organise something better than we usually have.
“Maybe this is the kick-start we need.”
Council leader John Alexander, who will chair the meeting, said the “time is right” to review how the council uses public money at Christmas and said he believes “empowering communities” will be broadly welcomed.
He said: “I know that many communities are already coordinating their activities at a local level and have delivered a lot in previous years without council funding.
“So, it’s right that the council helps provide the tools to be able to deliver a Christmas programme as part of this review.
“The proposed approach tries to balance the needs of people who have been calling for a bigger and better Christmas offering in the heart of the city, along with those in our communities who want a local way of marking the festive period.”