Dim future for festive lights
CELIA WIGG A town whose Christmas lights have become the butt of jokes may have no public display at all this year. Diss Town Council has taken over the reins following a catalogue of problems culminating in a disastrous show in 2006.
A town whose Christmas lights have become the butt of jokes may have no public display at all this year.
Diss Town Council has taken over the reins following a catalogue of problems culminating in a disastrous show in 2006.
Just three strings of lights were put up by the professional company employed to do the job, and these fused within seconds of being switched on by rock legend Rick Wakeman. The Christmas tree also had to be replaced because it was deemed unsafe.
It was a bitter disappointment, especially for the new fundraising committee launched by fed-up residents to try to stop the rot. But they were let down by lighting firm Cascade Illuminations.
The decorations remained in place until February and were eventually taken down by a contractor employed by the council.
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A question mark now hangs over this year's festive celebration.
Town clerk Deborah Sarson has warned, in a report to tonight's full council meeting: “It is impossible to know whether a display this year will be feasible”, until the infrastructure issues have been resolved, and the costs of putting the lights up and the amount of funding “realistically required” are known.
The saga dates back to 2003 when it emerged there was only £5 in the appeal kitty to fund repairs after the decorations were ripped down by vandals.
Stung by a “Scrooge” tag, traders raised a staggering £18,000 the following year to put on a glittering display that still did not live up to public expectations.
The next year, Diss Business Forum took a back seat and the 2005 show was generally branded “disappointing” - only going ahead at the 11th hour after town councillors intervened and Cascade Illuminations was drafted in.
The company has now returned icicle lights belonging to the town, and Mrs Sarson hopes to meet with representatives from the firm, the forum and lights committee to resolve further issues.
Fundraising is on hold pending a decision about whether to have a display.