A lack of festive cheer threatens to consume the town hall as a political row overshadowed the switching-on of Merton’s Christmas lights last Friday.

For the first time in a decade, the borough’s official switch-on ceremony took place in Mitcham. But a series of hitches which disrupted the event have been hammered by the area’s Labour councillors, who claim the “shambles “ is indicative of Conservative apathy for the east of Merton.

Only a small part of the town’s lights were switched on - which only happened at the second time of asking after the switch broke - with some people claiming they struggled to make out the decorations because it was still light.

Figges Marsh Councillor, Agatha Akyigyina, said: “The event just wasn’t properly organised. It’s the first time in a decade that the lights have been switched on in Mitcham and the council should have made a big deal out of it.

“If it wasn’t for the brilliant singing by children from the area’s primary school children, the event would have been a total flop.”

But Merton Council leader David Williams accused the Labour councillors of “scrooge-like” behaviour and “scraping at the barrel to score points”.

He said: "Rather than welcoming the Christmas lights switch on coming to Mitcham for the first time in 10 years or the brand new lights that we have commissioned for the borough this year, Labour councillors decide to launch a mealy mouthed and factually inaccurate attack on the council instead.

"In case they hadn't realised, we can't control the adverse weather conditions which is what had prevented all of the lights being erected in time for the switch on.”

He added that contractors worked through the night to make sure all of Merton’s Christmas lights were up and running for the beginning of Advent.

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