FURIOUS Radcliffe traders have accused Bury Council of “stealing Christmas” by refusing to put up its festive lights which the town’s businesses funded themselves.

In 2010, Radcliffe Business Group members clubbed together and combined grant funding with donations to spend £19,000 on new LED decorations.

The blue and white lights, purchased in the Radcliffe Borough FC colours, were displayed around the bandstand at the Piazza and went up to the market.

Bury Council took the decorations down at the end of the festive season and since then they have not been put up in the town – with traders not told where they are stored.

Richard Anthony, chairman of Radcliffe Business Group, said council’s actions were “mean and nasty”.

He said: “Why don’t the council just cancel Christmas for Radcliffe completely?

“They have basically stolen Christmas by not putting up the lights we have funded, and it is such a penny-pinching ‘bah humbug’ attitude.

“It is unfair, nasty and just plain mean. I would love to know who thought ‘let’s take Radcliffe’s Christmas lights away from them this year’.”

Mr Anthony said after challenging Bury Council about why the Christmas lights had not been installed in 2011 and 2012, traders were told it would cost £7,000 to put them up.

Traders say they have a quote for £1,200 to re-install the lights in the town centre, which would be “happy” to fund.

Mr Anthony, owner of Richard Anthony’s jeweller on Deansgate, added: “When the lights were put up they looked lovely and it was a real pull for shoppers leading up to Christmas.

“Bury Council said they could not justify spending £7,000 to put the lights back up, but where they plucked this price from I have no idea.”

A spokesman for Bury Council said: “Funding for Christmas lighting in Bury and Radcliffe town centres was cut last year due to the unprecedented financial challenges the council faces and as part of the approved budget savings.

“The council will be acknowledging the festive season by funding seven lighted Christmas trees.

“Lights were purchased a few years ago for Radcliffe, funded by the council and a grant from Radcliffe Township Forum. Regrettably, we simply can’t sustain the level of funding we have put into this in previous years. The Christmas lights in Radcliffe would cost £5,000 to install and maintain.”

Mr Anthony claimed Radcliffe’s council-allocated Christmas tree was last year “completely dead” when it was put up.

He added: “The thing was dead the whole way though. It was shocking — an absolute joke.”