Council yet to shake Scrooge label

Cardinia Shire councillors implemented a Christmas grants program earlier this year. Picture: CARDINIA SHIRE COUNCIL

By Rowan Forster

Council has again been accused of Scrooge-like spending on Christmas decorations – despite this year introducing a $10,000 funding pool for community groups to splash out on tinsel and ornaments.

In the same vein, the Lakeside Residents Group has been praised for taking the effort to beautify businesses throughout the neighbourhood.

The council’s 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.

Due to the new grant scheme, the responsibility to erect decorations essentially rests with community groups.Maureen Fields, who moved to Pakenham from Frankston in 2015, believes Cardinia Shire is still responsible for giving Pakenham a festive hit.“You go down the Main Street and it doesn’t have that welcoming vibe that a lot of other suburbs do,” she said.

“Take Mordialloc for example, they have a giant Christmas tree and decorations lining the entire Main Street and it is almost an attraction just being there.”

Ms Fields was not alone, with a number of ratepayers airing their grievances about the lack of festive cheer.

Many municipalities began displaying seasonal decorations last week, in time for the beginning of December on Saturday.

In a bid to bring some Christmas cheer to Main Street, somebody even hurled tinsel over the statues of Mr Yakkerboo and Blue.

In April, the council voted to offer $2000 to community groups – up to a total of $10,000 – for them to independently erect decorations.

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 at the time.

“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.

While the shire may not be awash with tinsel, the council is hosting a series of Christmas events throughout December for residents.

This weekend, Cardinia Shire Council, with the support of local community groups and businesses, is hosting Pakenham’s Carols by Candlelight at the Toomuc Reserve.

On 22 December, the festive film, The Santa Clause, will be screened for free at the Cardinia Cultural Centre.

The following night, The Polar Express will be played.

Cardinia Shire has been contacted for comment regarding the allocated Christmas decoration grants. 

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