Residents have expressed their disappointment as Ascot High Street sits devoid of Christmas decorations and lights this festive season.

Despite the Berkshire town’s sparkling reputation for the rich and famous, a lack of funding in the Royal Borough has forced the town into darkness.

Ascot is run and funded by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead alongside surrounding villages such as Sunninghill and Sunningdale.

A council spokesperson said: “Since the 2022/23 financial year, the Royal Borough has not had available funding for Christmas lights in parishes – however parish councils were advised they can still choose to fund their own, and/or seek business sponsorship.

“Last year, Ascot was fortunate to secure a local sponsor to fund installation of lights. This year, no parish funding or sponsorship was forthcoming.

“The Town Manager has been liaising with Sunninghill and Ascot Parish Council about Christmas 2023 and has been clear that funding is not available from the Royal Borough. Other parished areas in the borough have funded their own Christmas lights.”

Christmas lights in Sunninghill have been supplied by the local parish council as per the agreement at the beginning of the year.

The News spoke to Sunninghill and Ascot parish council who said that they were shocked at the council’s last-minute decision to pull its funding for Christmas lights.

According to the clerk, the parish council was not informed that RBWM was unable to fund the Ascot lights until after their budget for the year had been confirmed.

The Parish Clerk said: “We weren’t consulted by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. We were told around a month ago that they wouldn’t be funding the lights this year and that if we did want lights in Ascot we would need to find the money ourselves.

“Because it was short notice we hadn’t budgeted for the inclusion of Christmas lights in Ascot and therefore we couldn't afford to fund them this year. Our budget is drawn at the beginning of the year and because we were given such short notice it hasn’t been possible.

“They also told us after a decision had been made to not fund the lights in Ascot.

“We are hoping to add it to our budget next year so we will be able to provide lights throughout the town in 2024. As you can imagine it isn’t a small expense and with such short notice we just didn’t have enough in the budget for the rest of the year."