COUNCILLORS hoping to welcome people to Bedale with an expensive new Christmas lighting setpiece at one entrance to the town have suffered a setback.

The setpiece will not be ready in time for the official switch-on of lights in the town tomorrow afternoon because it does not measure up to requirements.

When it was delivered by its Continental manufacturer, the "welcome to Bedale" setpiece was found to be both too wide and too deep to hang between two lamp posts at the bottom of Emgate.

It is believed that the mistake arose from a mix-up in Europe over imperial and metric measurements and the setpiece has had to be returned for alterations.

It cost £1,200, with £600 each coming from the town council and the Bedale 750 committee. Although it has been ordered at the end of six months of market charter celebrations, it can be used annually because no year is given.

Deputy mayor Coun John Noone, speaking on behalf of the town Christmas lights committee, said: "When the setpiece arrived we found it was 21ft long rather than 18ft.

"It was more like welcome to Yorkshire or welcome to England than welcome to Bedale.

"It was too long to go between the lamp posts and it was too deep as well. We would have had to mount it on the floor. It was also far too heavy.

"We are very disappointed about the whole thing. It won't be ready for the official switch-on of all the other lights but we hope we can have it up by Christmas."

Councillors have written to RAF Leeming expressing disappointment that because of funding constraints this year it could not give a Christmas tree or a donation towards one.

The council is spending between £80 and £100 on a tree which at 25ft will be high enough to protect bulbs from vandals.