Colourful Christmas lights will again be twinkling along Burnham-On-Sea town centre streets this coming festive season despite some town councillors raising concerns this week that the cost of installing them is too high.
At the latest meeting of Burnham and Highbridge Town Council’s meeting on Monday (September 2nd) councillors considered plans to spend £6,000 to light up Burnham-On-Sea town centre with the council-owned lights and solar-powered Christmas trees.
Members were told Burnham-On-Sea’s Christmas lights could cost the council up to £6,000 depending on the amount of repairs needed to some existing lights. Burnham Chamber of Trade has installed them for several years but has decided not to do so this year due to the rising costs of installation and insurance.
Cllr Mike Murphy said: “The estimated cost for these lights is £6,000 and that only covers Burnham’s lights. It is totally unreasonable.”
Cllr Helen Groves also said she has concerns about the high costs and said councillors should consider the financial issues that families are facing.
She said: “The Chamber of Trade does amazing work but this is a problem as the money will be taken from our funds. There are residents who will not be able to buy Christmas presents for their children this year, residents who will not be able to put food on the table for their families this Christmas.”
But Cllr Andy Hodge said the switch-on of the Christmas lights marks “the start of the festive season for many people in Burnham,” adding that the switch-on event is always a wonderful family occasion.
Cllr Dawn Carey added: “I want to see Christmas lights in Burnham and Highbridge as it brings the community together and that is one thing that is important to us. It is a lot of money, I think we need to look at other options.”
Town Council Clerk Sam Winter explained that the funds could be taken from the council’s grants budget to cover the costs.
Cllr Andy Brewer then asked councillors to vote to approve taking funds from the grants budget to fund the Christmas lights in Burnham.
Ten councillors voted in favour of the scheme and seven councillors abstained from voting.
A spokesman for Burnham-On-Sea Chamber of Trade said afterwards: “We very much welcome the Town Council’s decision to proceed with this year’s Christmas lights display in the town centre.”
“The lights are vital in creating a ‘festive buzz’ in Burnham’s town centre during the run up to the busiest time of year for our shops.”
“The Chamber of Trade has in previous years overseen the installation of the council- owned Christmas lights but due to the rising costs of installation and insurance we have passed the role over to the council this year – as happens in Bridgwater and Weston – while we focus on organising the Christmas switch-on itself. The lights switch-on event is being planned for Saturday November 23rd.”