Christmas lights in Norwich set for £300,000 investment in effort to create “magical” festive feel
- Credit: Simon Finlay
Christmas cheer and festive feeling could reach new heights in Norwich after a £300,000 overhaul of the city's Christmas lights were announced.
The Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) and Norwich City Council will invest £300,000 over the next three years as part of a joint venture to refresh the city centre's Christmas colours.
The BID and city council have also been working closely with the likes of John Lewis, Jarrolds, The Forum, Norwich Castle and the city's two shopping malls to try and make the most of their lighting for the wider good of the city. The joint venture will see a recognisable theme, based around a star motif, running through the city's streets.
This will stretch from Timberhill, along Castle Street, London Street, Gentlemans Walk, Gaol Hill and up to Lower Goat Lane.
The lights will be turned on at an event on the evening of Thursday, November 21, which will see a candlelit procession through the city centre and Father Christmas and his friends turning on the lights.
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It represents a change in direction for the city council, which decided to reduce the amount of Christmas lighting in the city for last year's festive period, to save £20,000.
The city council needed to save £4.6m in 2012/13 overall so asked the public, through its Your Services, Your Say consultation during 2011, to help decide how to shave just over £600,000 from its budget.
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More than 1,500 people responded and ranked a list of services in order of importance to them, which the council used to decide where to wield the axe. Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'Although nowhere is immune to the effects of the financial crisis, Norwich has managed to weather it well.
'Part of this is down to the vibrancy of our city centre so it's important that we maintain this through working with our partners and investing in Norwich together.
'The new lighting scheme will make Norwich all the more magical this Christmas, which we hope will attract more visitors and provide a valuable boost to the local economy at the same time.'
The Norwich BID was established in November 2012 following a successful ballot, which saw 71pc by number and 91pc by rateable value vote yes for the BID, with a turnout of 30.7pc. The BID is raising £3m over five years through an annual one per cent levy on the rateable value of businesses over £15,000 within the BID area.
Stefan Gurney, executive director at Norwich BID, said: 'We've seen over the last few years that the lights in the city have lacked something. The BID and the business community wanted to work with the city council and other partners to get the lights back to a place where they should be. Norwich should be a great place to come at Christmas and should be lovely with sparkly and shimmering lights across the city.
'There is always lots to do and events in the city, but sometimes walking on some streets there is not much lighting and it is not as Christmassy as it should be.
'It is one thing that businesses were quite passionate about when we set up the BID.
'Funding for local authorities has been cut and cut, so working sets of lights have been reducing year on year.
'This will be the first time there has been investment in the lights for a good three, maybe even five years.'