HIGH street stores have been accused of being Christmas misers after they failed to contribute towards festive lights.

At a time when most people are thinking about giving, major stores in Amersham-on-the-Hill will not even pay £40 each for Christmas lights.

Eric Springate, chairman of Amersham and District Chamber of Trade, said the organisation had to rely on traders paying for the lights and most of the independent shops had eventually paid up.

But he said: "We have been trying to organise this since February and sent letters out to more than 100 shops but we had no replies.

"It is amazing that some traders moan there are no lights but they are not prepared to do anything to help organise or pay for them.

"Now many of the independent shops have paid their contributions for the lights but many of the major stores have not."

He said the chamber of trade had suffered a loss of more than £8,000 when they stumped up the cash to pay for the lights in the past.

He added that many of the shops were not acting in the spirit of Christmas and even though they benefited from customers in the town they are not prepared to give the town something back.

But Julie Gibson, branch manager of Sensations Gifts Ltd, and Sam Buckle, of The Entertainer shop, who helped organise a late-night shopping event, have put lots of effort into bringing Christmas cheer to the town and making the lights a reality.

Mrs Gibson said: "The problem is that with big stores the central office makes the decision not to give.

"We are successful because we have the ability to put our hands in our pockets and we will still be here when they are gone."

Iceland, in Sycamore Road, was one of the stores that did not contribute but a spokesman for the supermarket said they had given donations to charities all year which is why they did not donate the money for the lights.