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Abingdon's £50k Jubilee celebrations bill branded 'madness'
OPPONENTS have criticised big spending plans for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in Abingdon as “madness”.
Abingdon Town Council has put aside £50,000 for next month’s four-day celebration, more than 20 times what neighbouring Didcot Town Council will spend.
Events to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne will include a street party in Ock Street, bun-throwing, park festivals and firework displays.
But Angela Lawrence, independent member for Northcourt, said: “I think £50,000 is a horrific amount. It’s out of proportion.”
She added of the Queen’s reign: “It’s an achievement and, whether you are a Royalist or a Republican, I think we all admire the Queen.
“We can respect and celebrate 60 years but to spend £50,000 when there are so many things our town needs just seems mad. It is an irresponsible amount to spend.”
The authority, which has an annual budget of about £1.3m, also hopes to spend about £15,000 on a bandstand.
Samantha Bowring, Lib Dem member for Ock Meadow, said it was likely a significant amount of extra cash had been spent on administration and publicity.
She said: “I don’t think it is what people want.”
Sandy Lovatt, leader of the Conservative-run council, said the authority hoped to reduce the cost to £30,000 through sponsorship from businesses and ticket sales to some of the events.
He said: “We feel we have to put on a big celebration.
“We are the second biggest town in Oxfordshire and we have a lot of tradition with events like the bun-throwing.
“The town is notable in it’s desire to celebrate royal occasions.
“We are getting great enthusiasm from the population on what we are doing.”
Aidan Melville, Labour councillor for Caldecott, said: “It may seem like an extravagance but it’s the Queen’s 60th Jubilee and it’s worth marking. But where we can be wise with budget, we should be.”
Didcot Town Council’s deputy clerk Karen Dodd said £2,200 would be spent on the town’s celebrations.
She said: “Didcot Town Council is mindful of the need to balance the expenditure of public funds against the desire to properly celebrate and commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.”
Wantage Town Council has budgeted £10,000 but expects to spend less than £2,000, and Wallingford Town Council said it would spend no more than £5,000.
Oxford City Council and Bicester Town Council are combining celebrations with annual events and do not anticipate extra spending.
Banbury and Witney Town Councils said they were funding celebrations through sponsorship from businesses.