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I don’t often write letters to the papers, but I have sent the following letter to the press, including some of the nationals. Tell me what you think.
We are now reaching that time of year when Christmas lights are switched on across the country – but some councils choose to keep the Christian basis of December 25th shrouded in darkness. While other cultural festivals are celebrated with local authority support throughout the year, an eerie silence descends on some town halls at the approach of Christmas.
As a council leader, I think the public are now heartily weary of local authorities who believe they are striking a blow for diversity by watering down Christmas. Council tax payers do not want to see their money going to subsidise anodyne “winterval” style events which set the gold standard for politically correct blandness.
In Harlow, we are supporting a traditional nativity play in the town; arranging for local schools to sing carols in the town centre and providing the civic centre for a special carol service. I don’t believe this constitutes a sleight to residents from different backgrounds. It is patronising to suppose that minority faiths will be offended by the celebration of a festival which lies at the heart of this country’s national identity. Those of different traditions have no problem with that; it is craven local authorities that appear not to grasp it.
Councils exist to provide value for money services and give a lead to regeneration in these economically challenging times. Celebrating the Christian basis of Christmas is something I believe our residents want us to do; the undermining of a celebration enjoyed by most of the country on the grounds it might give offence is a piece of town hall idiocy they can do without.
Cllr Andrew Johnson
Leader, Harlow Council