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Herne Bay's Christmas lights switch-on cancelled

This year’s Herne Bay Christmas lights switch-on will not go ahead as volunteers reveal they have struggled to raise the funds and negotiate the red tape needed to put it on.

Hundreds packed into Mortimer Street for the event last December after local businesses banded together to organise it for the first time.

The group had been hoping to raise about £25,000 this time around – about £2,000 more than 12 months ago.

Happier days: a previous switch-on event in Mortimer Street
Happier days: a previous switch-on event in Mortimer Street

However, organiser Liz Crudgington says it will not take place later this month as it has failed to receive the same level of support from residents.

“I don’t think it’s logistically possible,” she said.

“Last year, we did really well and were really pleased with the response, but I think the novelty’s worn off a little bit.

“I think the crowdfunding campaign has been slower this year than last.

“It’s understandable that people might think the Christmas lights aren’t a priority, but we believe it’s important that Herne Bay is lit up.

“It’s important that when you come to the town to do your shopping it feels festive and it’s good for the businesses because people do like going to places that look Christmassy.”

About £7,000 - £5,000 of which was carried over from last year - has gone towards this year’s lights so far.

A festive event of some sort is scheduled to be held on Friday, November 23, in Mortimer Street. There will be a stage erected, a Santa’s grotto, face painters and stalls.

“There will definitely be something happening on November 23, but how big it is and how good the lights are really does depend,” she said.

Herne Bay's Christmas lights in Mortimer Street
Herne Bay's Christmas lights in Mortimer Street

“It’s down to both a lack of funds and logistics. There’s a mountain of red tape that people have to go through to put on events and we have to apply to Kent County Council for permission to put things on the lampposts, which costs money and takes time.

“I think Herne Bay would miss out and people would notice if there wasn’t a switch-on.

“Perhaps that’s what it would take to get people more involved and help us because we’re a very small team.”

Last year, the lights were placed along Mortimer Street, but the organisers have previously said that they wanted them to cover more of the town.

They also announced their intention to eventually light up the whole of the High Street and seafront.

But Ms Crudgington says the group is waiting to find out from Kent County Council which lampposts it is allowed to drape the festive lights around.

“If it’s a complete disaster and we can’t get any more money or permission for more lampposts then it will at least be the same as last year,” she added.

“People want something to happen, but they don’t always want to be involved in making it happen and that’s been one of the difficulties for us as a small group.”

To donate, visit the fundraising page.

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