Wellington town council has decided to stick with tradition and switch on the Christmas lights on the first Saturday in December, despite requests from some traders for a mid-November date. Last year South St retailers closed the road and held their own earlier event.
“We all recognise the value of independent shops to the town but there’s a difference between what they do and what we do,” said Cllr John Thorne. “They’re making money and we’re organising a community event to celebrate Christmas.”
Cllr Viv Stock-Williams raised another traditionalist voice when she said: “Advent begins on Dec 3rd so it’s appropriate to have the switch-on with carols and so forth in December. We’ll have kept the spirit of Christmas alive without making it a shopping festival.”
Other councillors were more willing to compromise and accommodate the traders’ wish for a longer retail season. “Christmas is arriving earlier whether we like it or not,” said Cllr Ross Henley. “Wellington does very well and we should celebrate that. Incidentally, you’d go a long way to find a county town with lights as dismal as Taunton’s.”
Against the suggestion of the town clerk Greg Dyke for a compromise date of November 25th councillors vote 7-3 in favour of the town’s Christmas lights being switched on in th4e late afternoon of December 2nd.
The Wellington Independent Traders Group is meeting later this week to decide on a response to the council’s decision. “What I can say is that after last year I’m shocked that no one from the council asked to sit down around a table and sort this out,” said WITG chair Sally Hooper, owner of Mad dog in South St.