Published: April 12, 2010
Funding crisis leads to axe of Burnham-On-Sea's Christmas lights

Burnham-On-Sea's town centre may not be illuminated with a Christmas lights display this year due to a major cash shortfall, the town's Chamber Of Trade revealed on Monday evening (April 12th).

Geoff Shickle, the Chamber's Chairman, announced the news when he appealed to the town council for funding at their monthly meeting.

He said: "The Chamber won't be running a display this year. We just cannot afford the £10,000 yearly cost when we get so little in grant funding from local councils."

"The district council gave us just £1,500 last year, but due to budget cutbacks it looks as though that funding will be cut back this time."

"Last year's Christmas lights display in Burnham cost more than expected and we just can't continue it in this way."

Cllr Neville Jones, who sits on the district council's grants committee, assured Mr Shickle that all grant funding had not been axed, although he could not guarantee that money would be available for Burnham's display.

Cllr Dennis Davey questioned whether the £2,300 spent on last year's switch-on ceremony could be re-directed towards the lights themselves, but Mr Shickle said the switch-on ceremony is a key part of the Christmas lights display.

"Many people give the Chamber of Trade a lot of praise for the switch-on - it's an impressive spectacle that marks the start of Christmas in Burnham," he said.

Cllr Davey said that if the Town Council were to consider taking over the running of the lights display from the Chamber, it would also have to do the same for Highbridge, which would represent a "financial double whammy" for the council.

Former Chamber of Trade Chairman Alex Turco, who was at Monday's meeting, raised an apparent inbalance in the district council's support for local Christmas lights displays. "Bridgwater's Christmas lights got £44,000 from the district council in grant funding when Burnham got just £1,500," he said.

Town councillors decided to refer the matter to the town council's Policy and Finance Committee to consider the plea for funding in more detail.

Pictured above are the Christmas lights in Burnham-On-Sea's High Street in 2009 and Michael Eavis switching on the lights in 2008


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