By Rowan Forster

 Cardinia Shire is set to shed its “Grinch” reputation, opting to offer Christmas decoration grants for the first time this year.
Under the trial scheme approved by councillors this week, applicants can apply for up to $2,000 to purchase festive decorations.
The total value of the funding pool has been capped at $10,000.
In justifying the decision, Cardinia Shire mayor Colin Ross referenced the Gazette’s coverage of the council’s “scrooge-like” approach to Christmas in recent years.
“Hopefully we can wipe away the Grinch label and embrace the Christmas spirit,” Cr Ross said.
“This is a huge improvement and hopefully something we can adopt in the coming years.”
The allocation pales in comparison to Hobson’s Bay council, which spent $30,000 in 2017 despite having a lower population than Cardinia Shire.
However, City of Port Phillip, with a population of more than 100,000 – spent just $4,000 last year.
Residents are optimistic Pakenham’s Main Street will not be left dull and bland this festive season due to the changes.
“Hopefully we get some tinsel, lights and some Christmas ornaments back and restore the spirit we once had,” Maureen Fields said.
“It’s a step in the right direction and hopefully Christmas decorations are here to stay.”
The issue first reared its head inside council chambers at the 22 January meeting, when Cr Ray Brown moved a motion for the scheme to be investigated.
He was inspired by an anonymous community member, dubbed the “tinsel terror elf”, who sprawled tinsel across Kooweerup.
“A tinsel terror elf took it upon themselves to put some tinsel in the trees around Station Street and all of a sudden it became Christmas,” he said.
“For a small amount of money it really looked sensational.”
Decorations placed within the shire are subject to approval from VicRoads and various utility companies.
Applications for Christmas decoration grants will open in October.

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