Council under fire over 'dystopian' Christmas display that cost more than £100,000

A display of four illuminated Christmas presents that cost £112,000 has been ridiculed online and described as an embarrassing waste of money (Picture: SWNS)
A display of four illuminated Christmas presents that cost £112,000 has been ridiculed online and described as an embarrassing waste of money (Picture: SWNS)

A council has come under fire for spending £112,000 of taxpayers’ money on a ‘tacky’ display of giant Christmas presents.

Critics said the illuminated display of four hollowed-out gifts in Derby looked like a “dystopian nightmare”, with some branding them “boring”, “ridiculous” and a “pathetic disappointment”.

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One of the city's own councillors even took to social media to tweeted a picture of the boxes, saying: "Well this is embarrassing".

Derby City Council isn’t the first to come under fire over the issue of Christmas lights, with Kent County Council criticised after ruling that one village’s festive lights were too heavy to be hung.

The four metre square presents, which light up and play music, have replaced an ice skating rink in Derby’s Market Place.

Designed by the same firm behind similar features at Harrods in London and along the Champs Élysées in Paris, they cost around £80,000, with a further £32,000 to cover programming, removal and storage.

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But even before the lights were switched on, locals blasted the display.

Joshua Walker wrote on social media: "Its like a dystopian nightmare. Welcome to Derby everyone. What a pathetic disappointment. How tacky can you get?"

The illuminated display of four hollowed out gifts has been erected in Derby city centre in a bid to attract visitors over the festive period (Picture: SWNS)
The illuminated display of four hollowed out gifts has been erected in Derby city centre in a bid to attract visitors over the festive period (Picture: SWNS)

Andrew Wright said: "Astonishingly expensive for what it is.......and tbh it doesn't even look very nice...a sort of festive Guantanamo prison."

Alojz Blount posted: "Absolute waste of council taxpayers money by an incompetent council. Someone needs to be held accountable for this farce. That looks pathetic.”

Labour councillor Nadine Peatfield, who tweeted an image branding the display "embarrassing", added: "They look very under-whelming. Our city deserves more.

"The Ice Rink cost £33k a year and brought major footfall to the city. I shall be very interested to compare footfall for these after the festive season."

Derby City Council said it was "disappointed" some people had chosen to judge the presents before they were fully working (Picture: SWNS)
Derby City Council said it was "disappointed" some people had chosen to judge the presents before they were fully working (Picture: SWNS)

A Derby City Council spokesperson said they were disappointed that people had judged the presents before they had been turned on and it had wanted to do "something new" this year.

The spokesperson said: "We are obviously disappointed that some people have chosen to judge the presents before they are finished and working but we fully expect that the attraction will be a huge hit with children and families once they are switched-on."

Jeremy Hutton, policy analyst at the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "These decorative presents are certainly no gift for local taxpayers, and will go down like a chunk of old coal in a Christmas stocking.

"There's nothing wrong with a bit of Christmas decoration here and there, but in this case the council seem to have got carried away with themselves.

"If Derby council really want to spread some festive cheer, they should put more money back in the pockets of hardworking taxpayers by cutting council tax, rather than wasting money on frivolous decorations."

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