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Pembury Christmas lights cancelled for health and safety concerns

It will be Christmas, but not as we know it in Pembury this year.

Usually the parish council spends £6,500 on a Christmas lights display around the village green and stretching down the High Street and Hastings Road, with the lights gaily festooned from the street-lamps.

The village green in Pembury
The village green in Pembury

But this year, KCC has refused to grant the parish a permit to use the lamp-standards after a load test revealed the metal columns would not take the weight of the light motifs, which can weigh up to 8kg.

The parish posted on its website: "We are saddened to report that Kent County Council has refused a permit for our Christmas light display in 2019 for health and safety reasons."

The parish has been allowed to erect a garland light display on the lamp standards around the village green - the garlands weigh in at only 4kg.

KCC tested a sample of nine from the 25 lamp standards that the parish usually utilises - only one was found to be capable of bearing the weight of the decorations.

Parish clerk Helen Munro said: "We could have put up just one light display, but we felt that one on its own would be even sadder than none."

"This is hugely disappointing – especially as the notice from KCC was received so late in the day giving us no time to rectify the situation..."

To add insult to injury, the parish was asked to pay the cost of the load test - £900.

Council chairman, Cllr Katy Brooks, said: "I am very saddened that we are not able to have our usual festive display of lights and we know how disappointed the residents will be. This will be a priority for us to work out a remedy for next year.”

But it seems the only solution will be for KCC to replace the lamp standards, many of which date from the 1960s.

And there is more bad news. During the summer, the parish usually cheers up the village with floral hanging basket displays on the lamp-posts - that also will be banned.

Parish council chairman Katy Brooks
Parish council chairman Katy Brooks

Cllr Louise Mills said: “This is hugely disappointing – especially as the notice from KCC was received so late in the day giving us no time to rectify the situation.

"Christmas is such a special time of year and I know Pembury residents appreciate the village lights – unfortunately, this year our High Street is going to look a little dimmer.”

However it is not all doom and gloom in the village.

The Hospice in The Weald in Maidstone Road is holding a two-day Christmas Market this weekend, running from 10am to 4pm each day. There will be 45 stalls, bauble-making workshops and Santa's grotto.

Next weekend, on Saturday, November 30, Pembury Primary School in Lower Green Road, holds its Christmas fair. All welcome.

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