A HALDANE man has accused the council of putting out misleading messaging after confusion about funding for a festive light switch-on.

Drew MacEoghainn was hoping to buy a tree and some lights to bring the local community together for an event at the Mill Cabin to mark the start of the Christmas season following news West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) had axed any official switch-on due to budget cuts.

He was under the impression local authority bosses would instead approve community group funding for localised smaller events after reading the council say they would offer support to nearby good causes.

However, Drew was left scratching his head after WDC informed the Dumbarton and Vale Reporter they wouldn’t be handing out grants to the community – instead saying what they meant was they would be offering application support for groups to seek external private funding.

A fuming Drew – who explained he has tried to contact the council on at least seven occasions - said: “They have been saying for months that they will provide money for community switch-ons, why say that and then not have any funds available?”

Before adding: “How can you possibly say there is a community grant there, to offset you deciding not to put Christmas lights up, and then not tell us where it is?!

“This is non-sensical.”

In March's budget meeting papers, the item referring to stopping any Christmas light switch-on events read: "Currently, the Council provides decorative Christmas lighting at a cost of £25,000 per year for installation and energy usage.

"Under this option, the Council would cease provision and installation of Christmas lights, with support given to communities and traders associations to take on providing decorative lighting at Christmas."

When approached by the Reporter, WDC insisted that although they don’t have the money to host switch-on events this year, they have still put up festive lights throughout the constituency.

A spokesperson told the paper: “Christmas lights have been installed in Alexandria, Balloch and Dumbarton, however, due to a budget gap of £21m last year, it was agreed in December 2022 that the council could no longer host switch-on events in Alexandria and Dumbarton.

“The council has installed Christmas trees in Balloch, Dumbarton and Clydebank and dressed two existing trees with lights in Milton and one in Alexandria.

“In addition, the council has also dressed trees at St Margaret’s Hospice, Duntocher Community and Levengrove Park.

“There are a number of community grants available in West Dunbartonshire and the council can offer support to groups interested in hosting a switch-on event to access these funding streams.”

But the response isn’t good enough for Drew and others across the region, with one opposition councillor describing the whole messaging from the Labour administration as “smoke and mirrors".

Last week, the council’s stance was that no community groups had approached them looking for support. By Friday, they had told the Reporter one group had reached out.

And this has done nothing to calm Drew’s anger with the council.

Drew continued: “They are definitely being difficult.

“I don’t mind them not having the money, I resent them turning round and saying it’s the community’s fault because they aren’t getting off their backside and doing anything about it.

“We are, but we are prevented from accessing funding.

“See if they had come to me at the beginning and said, there are cuts, we can’t have a switch on, I would understand that. I would disagree with them because I believe their whole policy and the way they have conducted themselves with regards to the cuts in West Dunbartonshire is nothing short of horrendous, but I would have understood it.”