£60,000 campaign to bring festive sparkle

Date: Friday 22nd March 2019

AN appeal to raise £60,000 to buy new Christmas lights for Penrith was launched this week.

The appeal is being organised by Penrith Business Improvement District (BID) and aims to pay for new lights to replace the existing worn out display.

Dan Harding, BID chairman, who runs Foundry 34 restaurant and Angel Lane Chippie, said the move followed a negative response to December’s festive display.

A special page has been set up on the GoFundMe fundraising website and organisers are hoping to raise enough to enable Penrith to sparkle this Christmas.

Dan said the existing stock of lights was “failing” and electrical problems had led to last year’s disappointing display — with the lights remaining unlit at the expected switch-on time of 4pm. He added: “We did react quite quickly and they did come on within half an hour.”

Penrith BID took over responsibility for the Christmas display a few years ago and has an annual budget of £20,000 to cover the cost. Dan said: “Last year, because we had to do so many repairs to lights, it meant we didn’t have as big a budget. This year we want to replace them because there are only so many repairs you can do.”

He said that in 2018 people had expected an organised switch-on of the lights, which was never planned. But this year it was hoped to have an organised programme of events — including a proper switch-on time.

“We’ve listened to the community and that’s what will happen,” he said.

The BID GoFundMe page states that town centre businesses, through Penrith BID, have donated £20,000 towards the £60,000 needed to replace the lights.

“To make this possible we urge you all to do your bit and raise as much as you can and donate whatever you can afford to make Penrith a town not only to be extra proud of this Christmas period, but for future ones too,” it says.

“You may ask why the council isn’t paying for the lighting. Every council in the UK is making budget cuts and Christmas isn’t an affordable cost for most councils in today’s financial climate.

“Therefore it is down to small not-for-profit organisations such as Penrith BID to ensure Penrith sparkles for the community of Penrith and Eden.”