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Whitstable could be without Christmas lights amid mounting debt

By Sean Axtell

A crowdfunding scheme is underway to make one Kent town sparkle this Christmas, after organisers pulled the plug on the Christmas lights because of mounting debt.

Whitstable residents have launched an appeal for £22,000 to brighten up the high street, as Whitstable Chamber of Commerce (WCC) revealed it could no longer afford the project.

Debt for the lights has reached £14,251. 60 over the past three years because ‘too few people are prepared to pay for them,’ the WCC said in a statement.

Whitstable town Christmas lights
Whitstable town Christmas lights

The statement says: “The harsh reality is that while everybody appears to want lights, too few people and organisations are prepared to contribute sufficient funds to pay for them.

“We are sorry for the disappointment that this may cause.

“If all of the businesses in town were to pledge to give £100 each toward the lights, then we may be able to save the day.

“We would not collect any money until we had sufficient pledges to cover the amount required, and at that stage payment would be requested.”

But Whitstable resident Michelle Elliott yesterday ignited a campaign on crowdfunder.co.uk, which has garnered £1,845 at the time of writing.

Her ‘all-or-nothing’ target’ aims to settle the outstanding debt and raise enough to secure the lights for this year.

She said: “The WCC yesterday made an announcement that the festive lights for this Christmas, will not be going ahead due to lack of funding.

“So rather than miss out, the people of Whitstable have come together to try and crowd fund the amount needed to get the lights installed for this year.

“We wish to attract local businesses who may wish to support our initiative.”

Her Facebook page ‘Light up Whitstable - Christmas 2017’ has attracted 200 followers since going live yesterday.

WCC has raised money for the lights after Canterbury City Council pulled funding three years ago.

Last year it was forced to axe the switch-on event when its fundraising bid failed to take off.

To donate see www.crowdfunder.co.uk/whitstable-christmas-lights-2017

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