VILLAGERS are being urged to enter into the Christmas spirit by decorating their homes for the festive season.

West Auckland Parish Council has launched a Christmas decorations competition to brighten up the village.

A prize of £50 is on offer to the owners of the best decorated house. The best decorated business will be awarded a trophy.

The council, which formed in May this year, had hoped to use some of its £10,000 annual budget to provide decorations for the village.

But the cost of adorning each lamppost with lights was estimated at £1,200 to £1,500, which the council felt it was unable to justify spending on decorations.

Council chairman Councillor John Ferguson said: "Hopefully this competition is a more affordable way of encouraging people to brighten up the village for the festive period."

Decorations will be judged next month and winners are expected to be announced and presented with their prizes in the week before Christmas.