Christmas lights at risk after row over funfair at Swaffham switch-on event

Hundreds of people turned out to see Swaffham's Christmas lights be turned on Hundreds of people turned out to see Swaffham's Christmas lights be turned on

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
9:33 AM

Swaffham could be left in the dark next Christmas after organisers of the festive lights switch-on event claimed it was ruined by a decision to hold a funfair nearby.

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Swaffham Business Forum opposed the funfair’s approval, made by the town council two weeks before the November 30 event, fearing it was incompatible with the community event with school choirs and reindeer they had planned.

Forum chairman Chris Parsons told Swaffham Town Council last Wednesday the group, which raised £4,000 to pay for the lights and switch-on, had considered cancelling the event, and a number of stallholders pulled out.

He said: “The market square was empty by around 6.45pm and the stalls that had kept faith were poorly supported and will not now be returning. Business and shop takings for the night appear to be around a third of last year.

“Worse, however, was the feeling of dejection felt by our volunteer army, who had worked so hard to promote the lights and the event.

“It remains to be seen whether we will still be able to organise the fundraising events during the coming year, or indeed whether they will be supported if we do.”

The funfair was promoted by town councillor Stewart Bell, who declared a personal interest at the meeting that approved the funfair, and Mr Parsons said there was “an inescapable impression that the town council was prejudiced in favour of its own members”.

Speaking after last week’s meeting, Mr Bell said he paid all the expenses for putting on the funfair from his own private funds, and the showmen donated £250 towards restoring the Pedlar sign.

He said: “I am surprised the business forum has reacted in this way and my only intention was to increase the enjoyment of the evening whilst raising money for the repair of the Pedlar sign. Judging by the high attendance at the funfair and the many favourable comments received, I did just that.”

He added he would seek advice about the forum’s “unfounded” comments about him.

11 comments

  • "The funfair was promoted by town councillor Stewart Bell, who declared a personal interest at the meeting that approved the funfair" No surprises there then !. Vested interests all round. Time Bell was sacked for mis conduct

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    "V"

    Wednesday, December 19, 2012

  • Swaffham Business Forum assume they have more power do they? I don't think so! Mr Bell is an unpaid town councillor and local businessman; he has just as much right to have an input as anyone else. by the way tractorboy, don't assume that the funfair was run by 'pikeys' that's racist. And V, sack Mr Bell? How narrow minded of u, no misconduct by Mr Bell, fact.

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    Public Sector & Proud

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

  • so "Hundreds of people turned out to see Swaffham's Christmas lights be turned on" then "The market square was empty by around 6.45pm" so, people had gone to the fair or gone home, because thats what they WANTED to do!!

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Friday, December 21, 2012

  • @CllrIanSherwood It is quite clear from the comments and the statements quoted in the article and the feeling of hurt felt by many who had worked throughout the year so the lights could be provided (not by the council) and the event could take place that it was not "a great positive event for all involved". Perhaps councillors need to keep in touch with the people who elected them (and I don't mean an anonymous poll in the Watton & Swaffham Times website.)

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    Thoreauwasright

    Friday, December 21, 2012

  • catalonia13 I can't fault your reasoning but my argument is that, allegedly, somebody was cashing in on everybody else's hard work at the last minute and using his position and influence to gatecrash a community event for personal gain.

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    Thoreauwasright

    Friday, December 21, 2012

  • There has been a switch on for many years in this town and the fun fair has supported it - so the remarks about Mr Bell and his family making a profit - may you all be reminded he donated this to the repair of the Pedlar sign - also why should not business benefit - so should I not open my boutique - should the restaurants not open - everyone is out to make money and business and why should the funfair be treated or thought of any differently to those business in town that opened and were selling to the swaffham people - whilst I am happy browsing around stalls my grand daughter does not want to walk round stalls - she loved the funfair and not everyone was round by the funfair - this is also a difficult time for people and money is short do not put the blame for a lower turnout on Mr Bell and his family who work hard in the town and have lived here a lot longer than some of these people making these unjust comments. And I might add 'racist comments' which is disugusting and the EDP should remove this person from their site. And as for saying sacking Mr Bell - well that does me speechless - I think the Swaffham funfair poll speaks for itself

    Report this comment

    Gills

    Friday, December 21, 2012

  • We are lucky in Swaffham that most Councillors r in touch with local people, do hope no comments aimed at anyone in particular - hardly a 'tis the season of goodwill' comment... Councillors get so much flack, most carry out duties to serve the community. Lets all just agree that no 'group' shd control things, lets work together. Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!

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    Public Sector & Proud

    Saturday, December 22, 2012

  • It is regrettable that, after a year’s hard work organising and fundraising by the Swaffham Business Forum to create an event for the town that was to be in the spirit of Christmas, two weeks prior to the event and with customers guaranteed Cllr. Bell suddenly had the idea of a profit making funfair on the same night, totally out of keeping with the ethos of the original planned event and drawing people away from it.

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    Thoreauwasright

    Wednesday, December 19, 2012

  • Poll on Watton & Swaffham Times website has 68% of people supporting funfair, the whole event was a credit to all involved and the hard work By many - no need for comments made by some and negative publicity caused by this spat 

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    @CllrIanSherwood

    Friday, December 21, 2012

  • Very uncalled for comment by Tractorboy - should have comment removed and his account cancelled also other ill informed and incorrect comments - The Christmas Lights switch on was a great positive event for all involved - unfortunate that some have chosen to turn it into a very personal war of words

    Report this comment

    @CllrIanSherwood

    Friday, December 21, 2012

  • Would be good if comments made were from a position of knowledge and people had courage to use their own names instead of hiding behind anonymous names. Very brave to to make comments with no come back possible - try standing for council and see what people think of your efforts? 

    Report this comment

    @CllrIanSherwood

    Saturday, December 22, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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