Diss traders urged to dig deep for Christmas lights

Traders in Diss have been urged to show some festive spirit by digging deep in their pockets and supporting the annual Christmas lights switch-on.

The south Norfolk market town has been branded Scrooge-like in the past after receiving miserly contributions towards its illuminations.

Shopkeepers famously only donated �5 towards the lights seven years ago and a similar appeal by Diss Town Council last year only saw a donation of �250.

National chains and independents were yesterday encouraged to make a contribution to help light up the town for its switch-on event on Thursday, November 26.

Diss Town Council, which is organising this year's illuminations, says that it costs between �250 and �300 per shop front to install the existing lights.

Deborah Sarson, town clerk, said the reply from last year's appeal for funds was 'not a fantastic response', but all contributions would help to improve the Diss Christmas lights display and in turn bring more visitors into town and boost the economy.

She added that the town was 'stuck between a rock and a hard place' when the majority of national chains in Mere Street fail to contribute to the Christmas lights.

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'We do appreciate that it is difficult for traders in the town and the small independents are the ones that are forking out when they can least afford it and are less likely to benefit from it.'

'We have a couple of thousand left over from last year, but it is not enough to make a particular difference. If we wanted to extend the lights up Market Hill and down Mere Street, it would cost tens of thousands,' she said.

It comes as Christmas lights committees across Norfolk are facing a potential �450 fee for a road closure order. The town council is hoping to buy around 60 artificial Christmas trees to fit in the brackets above shop fronts in Mere Street and the Market Place, but the council could only afford about ten at the moment.

Traders in Diss are also being urged to open late and dress up for the switch-on event at 6.45pm on November 25. A celebrity has yet to be announced for the ceremony.

Lark Rise to Candleford actress and former EastEnders star Matilda Ziegler has been confirmed to switch-on the Harleston Christmas lights on Friday, December 3.

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