16 June 2024

‘So many people went above and beyond this year’

Hundreds attended Withernsea’s annual Christmas lights event in Valley Gardens on Saturday – but the town council has hit out at “ill-informed” comments on social media about the location and the town’s new festive lighting scheme.

This year’s event marked the switch-on of the new Christmas tree as well as the new lighting in Queen Street, which was made possible by a £50,000 donation from Withernsea Big Local. The money allowed the street’s decades-old electrical systems to be replaced with a new set of lights ahead of this year’s event.

The work, carried out by PJD Electrical, LITE Ltd and Electric Avenue, included new cabling, removal and installation of infrastructure, as well as traffic management.

The celebration event featured attractions including the Animated Objects theatre company’s model lighting display throughout Valley Gardens, and the lantern procession that travelled through the gardens, along the promenade, to the lifeboat station, and back. There was a range of stalls, while entertainment was provided by Seaside FM and the Withernsea Youth Club band.

At 5pm, spectators watched as the Christmas tree lights were switched on by Withernsea’s mayor Councillor Lyn Healing, and her consort David Healing. They were joined by the Carnival Prince and Princess, Jacob Caddick and Lily Elms.

A spokeswoman for Withernsea Town Council said: “The event in Valley Gardens was very well attended and the new lights and the Christmas tree looked lovely. The Animated Objects lantern parade and light show was very popular with lots of families taking part. There were lanterns of all shapes and sizes – some made their own, some were made by the carnival committee, and some were supplied on the night. “It was great to see all the little ones enjoying themselves with their families and getting excited for Christmas.

“Thanks to all the community groups and volunteers that took part on the night. It was very enjoyable.”

However, the event reignited debates about the location of the switch-on event, and several Withernsea residents took to social media to express their opinions.

In recent years, some residents have questioned the change of location from Queen Street to Valley Gardens, saying that moving the festivities away from the town’s high street and businesses has a negative impact on tourism and the local economy.

Residents also speculated on how the funds were allocated towards the new display, as well as criticising the appearance and suitability of the decorations.

In a full statement, Withernsea Town Council said: “Several reports have been issued throughout this year in the local press, our Facebook page and on local radio regarding the proposed new Christmas lighting display for Withernsea.

“They included the reason for having to replace the Christmas lights, what was being planned and how the project was to be funded and delivered.

“The new scheme has taken council staff a full year to plan, seek funding, administer, and deliver this project on behalf of the town council and the residents.

“We have liaised with many other agencies, organisations and contractors throughout. It has been a lengthy and sometimes complex project with many complications, some expensive, that have had to be overcome. All of which we must comply with.

“Some of the recent comments on social media are ill-informed, unrealistic, and borderline libellous.

“Sadly, while this abuse from a small contingent of residents has become expected, it is nonetheless offensive to those who have gone above and beyond to deliver this scheme for the town, especially as, at this time last year, it seemed that Christmas lights in Withernsea were likely to be a thing of the past.

“We wish to redress the balance and sincerely thank all our admin staff and grounds staff whose work ethic remains exemplary, our volunteers, contractors and all the other many people that have helped us along the way. Many voluntary hours have been spent on the project. We appreciate the effort you regularly put in for your town.

“It was a very chilly night for the tree switch-on event. Our staff, councillors and volunteers were out for many hours at the weekend ensuring a safe event was enjoyed by the many who turned up to see the lantern parade and lighting of the Christmas tree. We thank them too for their efforts.

“Above all, thanks to Withernsea Big Local for making this project a reality. It could not have been done without their support. The new lights do look lovely – thank you.

“We cannot always measure up to everyone’s expectations – some are unrealistic, some even absurd, but we do always try to do the best job we can for our town with the limited resources we have.

“For the minority who prefer to remain behind their keyboards and comment on social media about our activities, please contact us directly at the town council office. We can give you the informed, accurate information you seek – we have the answers to your questions. You will not find them on Facebook.”