The Christmas lights show in and around the High Street in Dumbarton leaves much to be desired. Pictures by Tom Gardiner.
By Bill Heaney
Despite a plea from one person not to whinge about the scarcity of Christmas lights in Dumbarton, people have been swift to criticise West Dunbartonshire Council’s pathetic attempt to put a shine on the town over the festive season.
Social media lit up with condemnation of the Council’s efforts around High Street, Church Street and the Town Centre after Dumbarton-based photographer Tom Gardiner posted a few pictures of the lights.
Criticism came from as far away as Toronto in Canada where Dumbarton exile Jack Blair, who lived in Bellsmyre and worked in Dewrance in Glasgow Road before emigrating, said: “We have more lights on our front lawn at Christmas never mind what’s inside the house.”
But before the stream of complaints turns into a torrent to match the River Leven after a storm, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
There are more lights than appear in these pictures and, of course, the old Bridge over the river has been lit up – although the lights on the Castle have long since gone out.
Tom Gardiner told Jean Campbell, who asked where all the lights had gone, “The High Street was full of lorries after the switch on event so I couldn’t get the [photographs] rest of them.”
Jean replied that she “saw a couple in Church Street last week. It will brighten up our town for a few weeks, since being switched on.”
Dumbarton East resident, Jim Crosthwaite, said: “When I was a kid I remember a ‘wow’ factor.
“Today it’s Wow, is that it?”
John Scott described the light show as “pathetic” and Kelvin Hail used words that cannot be repeated here.
He said: “The lights in both towns, Alexandria and Dumbarton, are both sxxx.”
He urged people not to jump on political bandwagons and blame the SNP-Tory administration for the poor show – “This has been the case for more years than I care to mention.
“C’mon give the towns something to smile about not whinge.”
Jim Crosthwaite said Jack Blair’s note about people putting on better light shows in their gardens was a good one – “People get to know local individual houses that put on better displays, and go there for the wow factor.”
Oonagh McBride, mother of Labour councillor David McBride, said: “Helensburgh puts us to shame.”
Anne O’Malley asked: “Why does Clydebank look fantastic at Christmas time and Dumbarton and Alexandria look woeful, yet it’s the same council?”
The lights row comes on top of the confusion and disappointment surrounding the allocation of community Christmas trees by the Council.
Anne Marie Sweeney said: “It’s just SO sad. Pathetic compared to years gone by. But I’ve picked up on some kids’ posts showing how they are currently having fun and enjoying the event?”
Jean Fraser appeared to sum up the feelings of the majority of the local electorate when she said: “They’re a joke.”
West Dunbartonshire Council’s communications department refused to communicate with The Democrat which wanted to ask questions about the lights.
Perhaps had they spent more on fairy lights and Christmas trees than the £400,000 that is spent annually on communicating or not communicating they might do more to build good relations with the public.
STOP PRESS, 4pm Tuesday, November 26: Further excoriating comments have been pouring on to social media today.
But before publishing them, the public should take into account this comment from Denise Currie: “This’ll be the same public that doesn’t support the retailers in the high street? Aye thought so, rips ma knitting so it does.”
I responded with this picture of Helesnburgh’s lights and this comment: “You make a very good point Denise. But what shops are there? And trying to pass off the Artizan Centre, which is the best lit area in Tom’s pictures, as a place to shop should have the Council up in court on a fraud charge.”
Ann McColl Graham in her usual forthright fashion put the boot in: “Couple of torches and a firecracker would have the same effect – but why put a sparkler on a dunghill?
“As for ‘supporting local retailers’, that’s never going to happen so long as the local authority continues renting to fly-by-night ‘businesses’ like phone unlocking outfits, vape shops and charity shops.
“Quality retailers are struggling in the face of on-line shopping as it is, and the decline is nationwide. Better to cut their losses and pedestrianise the whole High Street – and switch ALL the lights off.”
Valeman Paul Murdoch said: “Paul Murdoch Rather than try to scatter a few bulbs about the place, spend less and have a dedicated display in one spot.”
Jean Anne Mitchell, pictured left, the prospective Labour Party candidate to take on Martin Docherty-Hughes MP of the SNP at the next Westminster election, said: “This is very disappointing to see.
“Christmas lights and displays can give a sense of identity to an area, creating a focal point for discussion. Currently, there is discussion — but for all the wrong reasons. Hopefully WDC come out of their Bah Humbug mode and spread a bit of festive cheer.”