Diss pulls the plug on Christmas lights event

The plug has been pulled on the annual Christmas lights switch-on in Diss after no one came forward to organise this year's event.

Diss Town Council will not hold an illuminations event this December, blaming a lack of willing volunteers and funding pressures.

Members of Diss Town Council's Cittaslow committee made the decision last week after no one came forward to organise the annual festivities.

Graham Minshull, who had chaired the town's Christmas lights committee, added that South Norfolk Council was only prepared to give �500 towards this year's event and would not be providing a stage for the switch-on.

He added that the lights would still be installed this festive season, but there would be no grand event. 'We needed a co-ordinator who would get everything in place on the night, but no one was interested in stepping up to the mark. There was a debate about it and the view was that we will give it a miss this year. It is a shame because we had the best one last year.'

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'When we first started, South Norfolk Council gave �3,000 and that went down to �2,000 and �1,000 and this year it is �500. You can not book any acts for �500,' he said.

The news comes after Diss hit the national headlines in 2003 when an appeal for contributions towards the Christmas lights generated just �5.

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Mr Minshull, who is unavailable to organise this year's switch-on event, added that it was difficult to secure financial contributions to the Mere Street and Market Place lights from local shops and businesses.

'We have built it up since taking over four years ago and if we do not have a switch-on this year, the people that come to that will go elsewhere,' he said.

Deborah Sarson, town clerk, said that town councillors had made a resolution not to organise a Christmas event this year, but if sufficient volunteers came forward the council would look at the situation again.

The 2010 Christmas lights celebrations were attended by thousands of people and Norwich City goalkeeper Declan Rudd performed the switch-on duties.

No one was available for comment from South Norfolk Council yesterday.

The decision comes after Harleston's independent Christmas lights committee resigned earlier this year over increasing costs and red tape. However, town leaders are still in discussions about staging a switch-on event this December.

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