FESTIVE cheer in Waterlooville took a hit after callous vandals destroyed a set of lights.
Mindless thugs severed a battery pack illuminating a community-funded Christmas tree outside Lloyd’s Bank in London Road.
The set-up was part of the town centre’s collective annual display – comprising eight motifs and nine trees – but fell dark after being targeted on Sunday.
Jackie Buckley is the chairman of the Waterlooville Events Team, the group responsible for putting up and collecting funding for the lights.
Ms Buckley – who discovered the damage after embarking on the town centre to replace batteries for another tree – said: ‘I am absolutely disgusted. Whoever has wasted their time in doing this is very selfish.
‘This year’s display was able to go ahead thanks to months worth of preparation and donations from businesses and councillors, who kindly gave £2,000 out of their own pocket.
‘It makes me sad to think someone could undo that work for the local community in this way.’
As she went to inspect the lights, Jackie was accompanied by Conservative councillor for the Waterloo ward, Mike Sceal.
He said: ‘It looked like someone had ripped apart the cable lighting and torn or cut the wires from the battery pack. It was pretty discouraging to see.’
To ensure the tree is not vandalised again, the events team said it would need to rent a cherry picker to remove and replace the lights – moving the batteries further out of reach.
But with an estimated expense of about £180 to use the kit, the affected stretch of London Road outside Lloyd’s is expected to remain dark this Christmas – with doubt even cast over the display’s future growth.
Ms Buckley said: ‘I am sorry to say it would be too expensive to rent the machine to fix these lights, on top of what has been donated already.
‘Next year, we were planning to use battery-powered lights in all of the trees in the Waterlooville precinct.
‘But after what these vandals have done, I wonder whether it would even be worth it.’