Dispute at the Town Hall over Christmas light killjoy claims

Festive lights have been taken down from outside Louth Town Hall after a dispute between the management and Louth Town Council.

Christmas lights were taken down from outside the building last week, reportedly due to a disagreement over the £4.30 electricity costs involved with running each stretch of lights.

Andy Howlett, Director of the Louth Education Community Interest Company which manages the town hall, said that he has been unfairly depicted as a “killjoy”.

Mr Howlett states that his primary concern was whether the town hall would be held liable if any injury or damage were to occur due to malfunction with the lights.

The costs and hosting of the Christmas lights has been covered by the owners of the businesses to which the lights are attached for many years, based on a ‘gentleman’s agreement’. Mr Howlett took over management of Louth Town Hall in October last year.

“It never has been about money. All we want is an agreement so we know where we stand,” Mr Howlett said.

“It’s all about public liability. What if a Christmas light falls down on to somebody’s head - who is liable? Is it me, because it’s connected to my building?

“The council say it’s them but nobody’s shown me the liability insurance for it. Nobody has made any agreement with me.”

Mr Howlett sent an email to Louth Town Council requesting a written agreement last autumn, but agreed to host them last Christmas on the condition that an agreement could be arranged this year.

Mr Howlett says he did not receive a reply until after contractors had attached the lights to his building last month. The council is meeting this week to discuss future management of the Christmas lights in Louth.

Town Clerk Linda Blankley said: “We have apologised for the oversight which led to contractors putting up the lights at the town hall. Contractors carried out the work at 3.30am to avoid causing disruption.

“Louth is lucky to have the number of lights it has, and I’m disappointed that this negativity has come from something that should be positive for the town.

“We have removed a set of Christmas lights from another building in the past when the owners didn’t want them, and that was no problem.

“The town council has full liability for the lights.”