That seems to be the message we're getting here in Northampton. In their ultimate wisdom, our illustrious Local Authority boffins have really gone to town with the town center Christmas decorations this year .... we've got none!!! Well, that's not quite true. We've got a string of white bulbs round the Market Square and a big tree ... covered in white bulbs. Boy oh boy.
There was a time when our Town Center was a joy to behold. We could go to the shops in the evening, and stroll through the pedestrianised center soaking up the spirit of Christmas. Going back even further, when Abington Street was still open to traffic, we had large illuminated decorations that were worth travelling from afar to see. But year after year, the number of decorations and the standard of them, has progressively reduced. Over recent years, the standard has become so poor that it is hard to imagine how things could get any worse. But hats off to our council ... they managed it. Poor became bad, bad became pathetic, and now pathetic has become embarrassing.
Someone in Sheffield told me this week that they never hear Northampton mentioned on the television news. Hardly surprising, I thought, as we're not exactly 'local' to Sheffield. However, this week Northampton was on the news in Sheffield - as the most UNdecorated town center in the country. How embarrassing is that?
No doubt our local officials are aware of some strategic rationale that justifies such an appalling demonstration of how not to spread good cheer at this festive time, but it defeats me. Cost cutting I can understand, but I understand about false economy also, and that's what this is. If our retailers report below average shoppers, especially from out of town, who will be surprised.
Still, on a positive note, it can't get worse than this, so Christmas 2008 can only be an improvement. Right? Let's hope so.
Merry Christmas from me.