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Whitstable Christmas lights switch-on is axed

By Joe Wright

Organisers of Whitstable’s Christmas lights switch-on event say the celebration is still cancelled - despite receiving dozens of donations in a matter of hours.

The town’s Chamber of Commerce announced last night that a fundraising appeal had not even covered the cost of the lights, let alone the switch-on festivities.

But just hours after announcing Friday’s switch-on had been axed, dozens of people starting donating cash to the appeal.

Last year's funding target was met.

Last year's funding target was met.

However, chamber president Brian Hitcham told KentOnline this morning that the switch-on will still not be happening.

He said: “The event will definitely not be taking place.

“We have had a disaster in raising funds this year so we thought the sensible thing to do was to be up front with everyone and tell them.

“It is a harsh reality but we simply just don’t have the money.

“We need £19,000 to cover the lights cost and so far we have only £4,000.”

Dev from BBC Radio 1 was due to turn on the town's Christmas lights

Dev from BBC Radio 1 was due to turn on the town's Christmas lights

The Chamber of Commerce has raised funds for the event for the past three years after Canterbury City Council removed funding, but this year’s appeal has failed to take off.

National DJ Dev Griffin from BBC Radio 1 was due to perform the honours at the switch-on after he accepted the invitation live on air last weekend, but he will no longer be coming.

Mr Hitcham added: “Traders have tried their best to support the appeal but it hasn’t worked.

“I’m not sure why we have come up so short this time around as it has been plugged on social media, buckets have been in shops and we’ve been in the local press.

A total of £6,000 is needed to cover the switch-on event costs

A total of £6,000 is needed to cover the switch-on event costs

“People don’t realise that the switch-on event costs money – it isn’t a simple event to organise which others seem to assume.

“We need to cover public liability insurance, road closures need to be organised, and barriers and stewards need to be paid for.”

People have been donating to the online appeal – with more than £520 being donated since yesterday.

Mr Hitcham says their money will go toward the covering costs for the lights which have already been installed across the town.

“Those donating now are helping to pay for the lights – not the switch-on event,” he said.

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