Retailers have reacted angrily to a council decision to delay the town’s Christmas lights switch-on until December 3rd, two weeks later than a date provisionally settled at a public meeting last month.
“I feel so angry about this that I don’t trust myself to comment,” said Sally Hooper, owner of the Mad Dog clothing store in South St. “It’s a farce to discuss and agree a date and then back-pedal on it.”
“I’m definitely not in favour of a later switch-on,” added Sharon Davis, who runs the florists in Cornhill and was also at the consultation meeting. [For a report of that meeting go to http://bit.ly/1o6FWf7]
Councillors discussed the advantages of choosing a Nov 19th date for the lights to go on – traders wanted five Saturdays to be open for shopping before the Christmas holiday – but in the end a majority felt that mid-November was too early.
“If you follow the retailers’ logic you’d have the lights going on in September. The Christmas Message is not all about trade and traders – and I’m an atheist,” said Cllr John Thorne.
Fellow non-believer Cllr Charles Biscoe added his support. “Christmas is in December and I feel that’s when the lights should go on,” he said.
Town Clerk Greg Dyke advised councillors that at an annual cost of around £12,000 the Christmas lights were the biggest single item in the WTC budget.
Other councillors to support a later switch on included, Vivienne Stock-Williams and Gloria Copley. “I’m sure that lots of people in the town regard the lights as part of the Christmas Story and this idea of the 19th of November is all to do with shopping,” said Cllr Copley.
Some councillors had mixed feelings about the proposal. that ‘Although personally I would prefer a later date for the light switch-on, having listened to the traders’ views,(at the previous meeting) I was persuaded to support the earlier date’, said Cllr Andy Govier.