Health and safety killjoys are threatening Britain with a Christmas blackout, council bosses warned yesterday.
Crippling insurance costs and absurd safety requirements mean many local authorities have abandoned their traditional lighting displays.
Insurers insist on strict adherence to health and safety guidelines, which require councils to use expensive specialist equipment to put up lights and test the security of fittings.
A string of requirements has pushed the cost of even a modest festive display up to £25,000.
They state that hydraulic platforms must be hired for putting up lights, as ladders are deemed too dangerous.
Every surface to which a light is attached must undergo a rigorous 'pull-test' to make sure it is strong enough to hold a cable.
Many councils have also been ordered to use a pressure gauge to test every bolt which holds a cable or light fitting to a wall.
Lampposts are often deemed unsafe to hang lights from and some roads have even been deemed 'too wide' for festive illuminations.
Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The festive period is looking darker and bleaker.
"Towns everywhere are facing the prospect of no Christmas lights – because councils simply can't afford the insurance.