A BITTER row over Holmfirth’s Christmas lights is set to be resolved by a judge next week.
The two-year-old quarrel surrounding the 2006 lights has landed the Holme Valley Business Association (HVBA) in court after it refused to pay the organiser, Kath Smith.
Yesterday Mrs Smith went head to head with the association in a trial at Huddersfield County Court to reclaim almost £6,000 she says she is owed.
The Recorder Denise Marson heard that Mrs Smith, a former Holme Valley Parish councillor, paid for numerous items on her own credit card under the verbal authorisation of then HVBA president Greg Christofi.
He denies the claims.
Mrs Smith forked out more than £4,300 on fairy lights, tree lights and displays for the river, buildings and streets around the town.
She also spent £159 on a snow machine, £146 on advertising and more than £1,000 on having the lights put up and taken down.
But the association, represented by current president Rob Dixon, said she was acting alone, did not provide quotations and failed to submit proper invoices.
Giving her evidence, Mrs Smith told the court that in 2006 the association had a very relaxed attitude to rules and procedures under the guidance of Mr Christofi, the owner of the Old Bridge Bakery, Holmfirth.
She said: “He was a very charismatic president. He could get people to do anything, if he said ‘it goes’, it goes.
“He cared a lot about Holmfirth, Greg was the man. If there were any problems we would go to Greg and it would be discussed in his bakery.
“We were very, very good friends. We worked so closely together it was unreal. There was an enormous amount of trust.
“It was all done with Greg and a lot of things didn’t go through the minutes.”
Mrs Smith also told the court that many other contractors had been paid large sums without any official authorisation, invoices or receipts, including one bill of £4,600 for an electrician.
But Mr Christoffi told the court he did not authorise Mrs Smith to spend any sums on her credit card.
“That’s why we have a treasurer,” he said. “If she provided the proper invoices I can’t see why she wouldn’t get paid.”
Mr Christofi also told the court that Mrs Smith had written a letter to the association stating the money owed could be treated as a gift.
And he said she had recently come into his bakery on Victoria Street and thrown pies and pasties at his manager.
But Mrs Smith said she wrote the letter in January 2007 shortly after a New Year’s resolution to give up her anti-depressants.
She said: “I was out of my head when I wrote that letter, which is something I’m not very proud of.
“I was completely irrational, completely emotional.
“I was in the bakery, I was in floods of tears, and I said to Greg, ‘there you go, I’m finished’ and stormed out.
“I felt all my hard work had been pooh-poohed and that I wasn’t good enough.”
The court also heard that HVBA treasurer, Sue Gardener, had received an anonymous threatening phone call shortly after she had refused to refund Mrs Smith.
Mrs Smith said she knew nothing of the call.
A verdict is set to be reached on Tuesday.