HILLINGDON Council almost trebled its spending on Christmas lights last year, with decorations around the borough costing £86,000.
The previous year's spend was just £30,000.
It has already decided this year's festive decorations will be more frugal, with early estimates coming in at £55,000.
But the question of value for money is being asked: were last year's decorations three times as good as the previous year?
Frank Harris, chairman of Windsor Street Traders' Association, said: "£86,000 is a lot of money.
"I couldn't see any difference in Uxbridge between 2008 and 2009."
The council has blamed the spending last year on councillors who chose to spend portions of their ward budgets on decorations.
In the 2009/10 financial year, councillors were given £25,000 per ward to spend on initiatives as they saw fit. The budgets have now been scrapped as part of general cost cutting.
But Harefield was a ward budget winner, getting its first Christmas tree on the village green last year.
It is being put up again this year, even without the ward budget cash.
Andy Stubbs, the council's town centre manager, confirmed the £55,000 figure and said it would be supplemented by local businesses.
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The cost of the borough's Christmas lights:
* 2007: £29,160
* 2008: £30,000
* 2009: £86,691
* 2010: £55,000?