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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Canterbury City Council's 'bah humbug' attitude condemned as it scraps Christmas lights in Canterbury high street

10 December 2013
by KentOnline reporter

Protesters are urging a council to drop the Scrooge attitude and splash the cash on Christmas lights.

While other towns and cities up and down the country are celebrating switching their festive lights on, Canterbury shoppers have been left in the dark as to why they've been left out.

Canterbury City Council leader John Gilbey insists cutting the funding for illuminations - which means leaving the high street in Canterbury with no festive lights at all - is the right thing to do in the face of its growing budget crisis.

Canterbury High Street won't be lit up this Christmas

Canterbury High Street won't be lit up this Christmas

The High Street's packed... but shoppers are not feeling the festive glow from the decorations

The High Street's packed... but shoppers are not feeling the festive glow from the decorations

The move will save the council £56,000, although the authority has made one-off contributions to certain areas, including Herne Bay and Whitstable.

But a storm of protest is gathering, with one traders' leader writing an open letter to national papers calling for an end to the 'bah humbug attitude'.

Was Canterbury council right to save cash on Christmas lights?

In it, John Hippisley, leader of the Canterbury Independent Traders Alliance, dubbed the lack of lights in the city "a public disgrace".

Participants before the Bah Humbug protest march

Participants before the Bah Humbug protest march

Steve Coombes from the Get Canterbury Moving campaign

Steve Coombs led the Bah Humbug march

He added: "Speaking with traders, tourists, students, policemen, workmen, pensioners, parents and children today, all commented on how sad the town centre looks.

"Dull, dark and depressing was how one family described it.

"Another, a pensioner, told me it felt like the war... all over again."

Festive... how Canterbury looked in Christmas 2006

Festive... how Canterbury looked in Christmas 2006

He called for a national campaign to bring the lights back to Canterbury.

His appeal follows a march through the high street at the weekend.

The Canterbury Community Bah Humbug March was organised by campaigner Steve Coombs, who has criticised the council’s decision not to pay for a festive display in the High Street due to cuts in goverment funding.

He says: “A lot of people are dismayed about the lack of Christmas lights. We’re hoping quite a few will join us on the march.

“The council have underspent by nearly £1 million this year, so why can’t they afford some lights?”

Some traders say the absence of decorations is impacting on their businesses at the most vital time of year for retailers.

While other towns and cities are celebrating turning theirs on, only the Whitefriars precinct and the King’s Mile have lights to lift the mood in Canterbury.

The protest comes a year after the Christmas Tree in Herne Bay was dubbed the 'worst in Britain'.

People in Herne Bay booed when the tree was unveiled in November last year in front of a 1,000-strong crowd.

Onlookers then spontaneously jeered when the anti-climactic lights - which barely covered the tree - flickered into life.

It was eventually replaced... with a fir tree dubbed "its ugly twin".


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