Poor storage has damaged festive lights

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SPALDING could sparkle like never before to attract shoppers into town at Christmas if funding can be found to replace worn out lights.

More than half the existing lights have been damaged because of the way they are stored in metal containers, said Jason Rooke, of Spalding and District Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Rooke told Spalding Town Forum he had met with E.ON about the lights and the news was not good. In addition to lights needing replacing, there would also be the cost of fitting and safety certificates.

However, although he was unable to give a figure at the moment, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

He said: “We do have assets. Metal cut-outs from flower parade floats could be decorated with lights to make Christmas very special.”

Coun Roger Gambba-Jones said he had looked at the cost of replacing lights in the past and it was £20,000.

But Coun Graham Dark said the lights should be replaced. He said: “The lights are outdated and an embarrassment. They do the town no credit at all and fail to attract visitors in to spend money at Christmas.”

Mr Rooke asked if Section 106 money could be used to replace the lights, but also said other councils were looking at leasing, which meant they could be changed every three years.

Chairman Coun George Aley wondered if South Holland District Council’s ‘union’ with Yarmouth could be useful in getting help and Mr Rooke agreed they would certainly have the expertise.

Coun Christine Lawton said sometimes ‘less is more’ when it comes to lights. She said: “I’ve visited a town that just had Christmas trees along the high street with white lights and it looked stunning.”

Councillors agreed new lights were needed and they would look at the options of buying and leasing for the next meeting.