Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Lack of cash for illuminations

Walsall Illuminations
No money has been put aside for Walsall's illuminations

Walsall's historic illuminations are likely to be cancelled for the next three years at least.

At a meeting on Wednesday night the council announced a budget which did not include any money for the light show.

The illuminations have been held at the arboretum for the past 57 years but in recent years they have made a loss.

The final budget decision will be formally approved by the whole council in a few days.

The council said it needed to make the savings to try to keep the council tax as low as possible.

"Matter of priorities"

The illuminations were due to be postponed in 2010 and 2011 because of work to improve the Walsall arboretum.

However, they will be cancelled for at least the next three years, the council said.

The cancellation of the event, which made a loss of 167,000 last year alone, should save the council nearly 500,000.

Council leader, John O'Hare said: "It was a difficult decision but people are suffering and we are struggling to provide core services.

"It's a matter of priorities. The illuminations generally made a loss over the last few years and we can't afford to risk public money on a further loss at a time when everyone has to tighten their belt."

The council has not completely ruled out a return of the illuminations in the future but says there will have be changes.

Councillor O'Hare said: "I don't think they will be back in their present format. They need to be more up-to-date, more modern and more interactive."

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