New funding boost for Southwold Christmas lights event

PUBLISHED: 10:08 28 September 2012 | UPDATED: 10:41 28 September 2012

Southwold Christmas light switch on.

Southwold Christmas light switch on.

Archant © 2011

A cash pledge of £2,000 has been made by Southwold Town Council to an annual Christmas lights event despite concerns that they may not have the money in their budget.

Members of Southwold Town Council supported a plea to use council money to shore up the funds for this year’s Switch on Southwold celebration, which has already received a £10,000 donation for Adnams brewery.

But councillors said money should only be donated if the funds were seen to be “available”.

Strong calls were also made to organisers of last year’s event to step forward and hand over any left-over funds that could be used to support the celebration this December.

Speaking at the Southwold Town Council meeting on Tuesday night, Katie Flodin urged the council to support Switch on Southwold 2012 and suggested that money could be paid back by selling programmes or using collection buckets on the night.

She also thanked Adnams for their contribution and revealed that the Southwold and District Chamber of Trade and the Southwold and Reydon Society would play a part in organising and supporting the event.

But she was adamant that last year’s committee should hand over any funds that could boost the event’s coffers for 2012. She said: “I have never seen report of the money left over from the previous Christmas lights event committee and I would ask can we have it?”

The mayor of Southwold Michael Ladd dampened expectations of this year’s event, stating that it could not compete with celebrations in 2010 and 2011 which he said had cost between £25,000 and £30,000.

Melanie Tucker expressed her concerns about using money the council had not budgeted for, and suggested ways of plugging the cost with charitable donations from the public. She said: “I am a bit concerned about the allocation of £2,000 that we have not budgeted for.

“I think we should take up councillor Flodin’s request and see if there are any funds from the previous year and I was wondering if we are going to make a contribution that we should collect money on the night to support the our contribution, or a local charity.” Simon Tobin added: “Perhaps this council should make a pledge subject to finding out what money is available. We should be seen to support this because we only have eight weeks to go before the event.

“But if we don’t have the money then we do not do it.”

A row erupted in March when the committee behind last year’s Switch on Southwold came under criticism from some members of Southwold Town Council. The organisers angrily denied accusations made and took the decision to dissolve the committee and abandon their plans for December 2012.

It was stated at the meeting this week that Southwold Town Council usually donated £700 to the Christmas lights event.

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