By Rebecca Hannant
Withernsea Town Council is calling on the community to help with this year’s Christmas lights switch-on.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, last year’s switch-on, which was set to take place on Saturday, November 27, was cancelled with just three days’ notice, prompting concern and frustration among some Withernsea residents who were worried about the long-term future of the event.
In a statement at the time, the town council listed several reasons for the cancellation, including lack of funds and support from local businesses with stalls, and not enough marshals due to Covid. It was also determined that several of the ageing Christmas lights were in need of repair, adding costs to the limited set of funds.
Despite the cancellation of the main switch-on event, the lights were switched on during the afternoon of Friday November 25, 2021, a day early due to the approaching storms.
Ahead of this year’s event, consideration has been made early to determine how it will run. Apart from the planning, electrical examinations have been made to the existing Christmas lights to determine how fit for purpose they are.
The examination of the lights has resulted in reports of several breakages and faults to some of the displays, many of which are decades old. Due to the age of the cabling, stock and sockets, and current regulations, Withernsea Town Council has made the decision to
decommission the majority of the Christmas lighting display for this year’s event, and will now explore different avenues.
A representative of Withernsea Town Council said: “It is not cost-effective to put good money into keeping the system going any longer.”
The lights have also been decommissioned due to the reliance on local businesses to mount them on shop fronts.
The spokesman added: “The lighting infrastructure is reliant on the co-operation of many property holders, permissions from other service providers and the support of local fundraising to support each year’s display.
“While some local businesses have generously supported Withernsea’s Christmas Lights over the years, we cannot expect their continued support or that of the public when we are all tightening our purse strings in the current financial climate. Even our own fundraising efforts have depleted with a greatly reduced income year after year.”
As part of the shake-up, the town council is now looking for new ideas on how to secure a future for its Christmas celebrations including securing extra funding to source “a much bigger, better and brighter display”.
The spokesman said: “We would ask everyone to accept a scaled-back lighting display for the next couple of years until funding is sourced and a new scheme is in put in place for 2024 at the latest.
“We really do not want this to be the start of the end of the town’s lights, like it has been in other towns throughout the country. We want this to be the start of something new which we feel our town deserves.
“We would welcome the input and support of our residents so that younger generations continue to enjoy a local Christmas lighting display.”
Despite the changes, Withernsea Town Council will retain the overhead lighting and Christmas trees in Queen Street with an event in Valley Gardens on Saturday, December 3, to welcome in the festive season.
The Remembrance Tree service will also still take place outside the Municipal Buildings on Friday, December 2, at 7pm. Stars and message cards will be on sale soon.
If anyone wishes to be involved with the design of the new scheme, please get in contact with Withernsea Town Council.