Scrooge-like council chiefs who had ordered traders to remove their Christmas decorations have had a change of heart following an outcry.
Stores inside the council-owned Stanley Buildings on Church Street had been told to remove the festive trimmings because they were said to be damaging the listed building.
But after the display was likened to ‘Fifth Avenue in New York’, it was announced the decorations will be allowed to remain in place.
Traders from Mankind, Lingerie Lounge and Hermosa Boutique had clubbed together to pay for the decorations out of their own pockets.
The decorations outside Lingerie Lounge
Sirge Smart, who owns Mankind menswear store, said: “It has cost us a lot of money and we have not asked the council for anything, and we have had customers in every day who say the decorations look amazing.
“The building is in total disrepair anyway and outside there are chunks of masonry missing, and all we have done is put in two tiny bolts to fasten them to a window ledge.”
Chrissy Thomas Griffin, owner of the Lingerie Lounge, said the decorations “made everyone smile”.
She added: “The council served us all notices the day after they were installed ordering us all to remove them
The decorations on Church Street
“Their letter said it was because it is a listed building. But we have not drilled into anywhere and used existing hooks they installed themselves, and used a professional company to install and insure.”
Coun Tony Williams told a meeting of the full council: “If you have seen the Christmas decorations outside, they are stunning. It is like Fifth Avenue in New York.
“I was shocked when Sirge contacted me and said someone from the council had gone to these shops and said you will have to take the decorations down as this is a listed building.”
Coun Mark Smith, who is a ward councillor for the town centre, also praised the display and added: “It does really brighten up the town and it would be nice if all the units did the same.”
Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said the display would be allowed to remain in place.
She said: “They have drilled into the fabric of the building. They will be staying up.”
But she added the traders would be asked to “make good the damage” when the trimmings were taken down.