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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 October, 2004, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Council reins in Santa spending
Reindeer
Reindeer have been used in the parade for more than 10 years
Santa's reindeer have become a casualty of a town council's budget cuts.

Councillors in Usk did not want to pay the cost of hiring the reindeer for the Monmouthshire town's annual winter parade after a rise in local council taxes.

The reindeer cost more than 800, and the town council said it had to spare council tax payers.

It was feared that Santa would have to find alternative transport but local fundraisers have now stepped in.

Reindeer have been part of the Usk annual Christmas parade for more than 10 years, with up to eight of the animals hired for the occasion.

It is around 800 to hire the reindeer and that is a lot of money for a small budget
Alec Leathwood, Usk Town Council

"It will be as good as ever," said Alec Leathwood from the town council.

"We have been able to raise the money and the event should be bigger and better than ever.

"The reindeer are usually held at the castle overnight en route to other events and so we were able to take advantage of that and it has always been a very successful event.

"But this year it has been a struggle.

"Council taxes are increasing and we are trying to keep our share of the precept down.

"I don't know the exact figure but it is around 800 to hire the reindeer and that is a lot of money for a small budget," he said.

'Considerable costs'

Mr Leathwood said that the town council simply could not afford to pay for them this year and it was feared that it would be a reindeer-less Christmas in the town.

But when local people heard the news, fundraising efforts were made and enough money has been collected to pay for the reindeer.

Fundraising activities have been held in the town by local people.

"We knew it was going to be a struggle last year because there are considerable costs involved," said Mr Leathwood.

"But we have got a lot of good intentioned people here and I am confident we will have a great event," he added.




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