COUNCIL bosses have been labelled “scrooges” after Benfleet town centre was left off the Christmas decorations list for another year.

Calls have been made to install Christmas lights along Benfleet High Road to help bring more festive cheer to the town.

Frustrated residents have been campaigning for better decorations to be placed in the town’s busiest shopping parade for years, claiming the area should have its own annual light switch on like Canvey and Hadleigh.

However, for another year the shopping street has been left out.

Bob Prince, 63, of Clifton Avenue, Benfleet, said: “The High Road has the most shops that anywhere else in Benfleet and yet its without Christmas lights yet again. We were told they’d be put up once new lamp posts were put in. Well the lamp posts are in and where are our lights?

“I think it is deplorable especially when the other big towns in the borough have their own lights and events.”

Castle Point Council installed seven Christmas trees across the borough earlier this week in a bid to decorate the borough ahead of the holiday season.

Benfleet residents were dismayed as the High Road did not receive one.

John Rogers, of Oak Field Road, Benfleet, said: “I have to say in fairness to the council the trees do look really nice, and in their defence the High Road is such a long road it would be difficult to find the right place to put one here.

“But it would have been so nice to have our own tree especially as the decorations that have been put up in the past have been so abysmal. Right on the junction with Kents Hill Road, near where the library and school are would make a lovely place as it gets so busy along there.”

A council spokesperson said: “This year Castle Point Council has come up with an alternative using Christmas trees and festive lights at various places across the Borough instead of the lights on lamp columns.

“We took this  action to avoid the difficulties of the last few years where Essex County Council’s lighting columns have failed structural testing we were unable to use them for  festive illuminations and came under criticism for poor displays.

“Benfleet has its own Christmas trees just like Canvey, Hadleigh and Thundersley. There is one at Tarpots and one at the junction of School Lane and Essex Way as there is no suitable location in the High Road for placement of a tree.

“Local businesses were asked if they would like to sponsor trees however the uptake was not very high with just a handful taking up the offer.

“We have had calls from residents and businesses who are very pleased with the new illuminated trees many saying they are an improvement over our usual display.”