Apology from town clerk as deadline looms for Christmas lights consultation - and where the money would be spent

Wisbech Christmas Lights Switch on 2013. Picture: Steve Williams.

Wisbech Christmas Lights Switch on 2013. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Wisbech Town Council has apologised for not informing the Wisbech Standard of its consultation on whether to spend £19,000 on Christmas lights.

The council launched a short span consultation last week (it ends on Saturday) to find out if residents support spending the cash this year to brighten up the town.

Town clerk Terry Jordan said: “With hindsight, which is, I am sure you would agree a wonderful thing the town council could also have let you know what it was doing in this matter.

“I apologise that this courtesy was not extended to you.”

Mr Jordan went onto explain that it had been felt “that use of the Wisbech Standard for a story to publicise the poll could have clouded the issue as the Wisbech Standard was already running its own poll on this issue.

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“In fact one member of the public has said to us that she believed that the poll had already been undertaken.”

The scheme, if approved, will update lights in High Street, Market Street, and Union Street and also light the trees on Freedom Bridge roundabout.

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Lighting displays to the market place will be upgraded and there will be ‘living trees’ round the central tree and extra lighting in the centre.

“If the lights are approved by the public, we will look to install them either this year or more likely next year,” says a council statement.

“The funds come entirely from available town council financial reserves and do not deplete those reserves below Government recommended levels.

“A fundraising campaign will be launched at this year’s Christmas Lights switch-on to replace some/all of the money over the next few years and will then ideally continue to run to pay for ongoing upkeep and upgrades.”

The statement added: “We have asked people to say “yes” or “no” and the town council as a body has no preference as to the outcome. If people say “yes” then we’ll know it’s supported and get on trying to implement it either this year or next year.

“If people say “no” then we’ll shelve this plan and look to other ways to improve the Christmas lights going forwards.”

Residents of Wisbech only are eligible to vote- they must include their name and post code and get their YES/NO response to the town hall by Saturday.

The statement added that the idea arose because of criticism each year over the Christmas lights not being as good as other towns.

“This proposal was an attempt to do something in the short term rather than the very long term, but it is just that, a proposal,” said the statement.

“If people say they’d rather we did not do it, we will not do it. How often do you get a local council put the decision entirely in your hands? That’s what we are doing.”

* 300 people voted in the Wisbech Standard on line poll, with three out of every five votes rejecting the idea.

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