Instead of putting up street lights the town council is working with the Chamber of Commerce to provide free Christmas trees and holders to businesses.
Mayor Amanda Moriarity said more than 60 trees have been ordered by traders with more requests coming in daily.
Last year the company which put up the town’s outdated lights went out of business. The council then spent the next five months seeking tenders but all of them were beyond the council’s £9,000 budget.
“The cheapest option for one year was £14,000 for the lights rental and the installation, far beyond our budget,” said Amanda.
The alternative was for £10,000 a year but it was a five-year contract.
“Ten per cent of our annual £500,000 budget is reliant on a central government grant which could disappear at any time. It has been reduced regularly and we felt that £50,000 was a huge commitment for the council,” said Amanda.
The town council’s main income comes from the precept in the council tax. This year an average Band D council tax payer will pay £109.76. It does not receive anything from business rates.
The town council looks after over 20 green spaces and contributes funding to organisations such as the CAB and HomeStart and many more. Last year it awarded £72,000 in grants to community groups as well as ensuring that an afterschool play scheme continued in the town.
“We have been working for months to find a solution and started as soon as the company went out of business. Sadly we could not find something that was within our budget and felt it was a good time to try something different,” said Amanda.
“It is the first time we have had such a level of collaborative working with traders and so far it is proving effective. We will review the situation for next year and will welcome people’s comments.”
Stroud joins a long list of towns which are struggling to find money for festive lights. Coleford has decided to pull the plug on its displays because there are not enough volunteers to put up the lights and Coleford Town Council cannot afford the £18,000 it would cost to hire a contractor.