I AM intrigued by Cllr Steve Kay’s claim that the Labour Party on Redcar & Cleveland council once tried to abolish the word “Christmas” altogether by referring to “Festive Lights” rather than “Christmas Lights” (HAS, Jan 1)

Apart from Christmas, there are many other festivals celebrated during the winter months, including Diwali, Hanukkah, Yule and Hogmanay. I therefore see no problem in referring to “festive lights” or even “the festive season”. It hardly amounts to abolishing Christmas.

I also doubt Cllr Kay’s claim that British people have been “ashamed of fully celebrating Christmas”, but if there is any truth in it, the fault surely lies not with the “politically correct brigade” but with the likes of the Daily Mail, which claimed in 1997 that Birmingham City Council had abolished Christmas and re-named it “Winterval” in order to avoid offending people of minority faiths.

The “Winterval” myth was wheeled out in various forms year after year until 2011, when the Mail finally printed an apology, admitting the story was untrue.

What actually happened in 1997 was that Birmingham City Council, hoping to attract business investment to the newly-regenerated city centre, organised a winter festival – “Winterval” for short – which ran from November to January.

It had nothing to do with any imaginary offence to religious or ethnic minorities. Christmas was included, not cancelled, renamed or replaced, and was celebrated, as always, with Christmas trees, lights, decorations, carol concerts and nativity plays.

Pete Winstanley, Durham.