Helping hand needed over lights

Date: Friday 22nd March 2019

WITH spring only days old, it might seem a little early to be discussing Christmas, but the business community in Penrith has already turned its thoughts to how the festive season will be celebrated in the town later this year.

It has launched an appeal to raise £60,000 to buy new lights which it hopes will turn the build-up to Christmas 2019 into a sparkling occasion.

There was criticism last December of the lighting display in the town and the lack of a formal switch-on ceremony. While lights in some parts of the town centre were inviting, those in the main thoroughfares certainly lacked the sparkle of previous years.

The problem is the town’s ageing lights have to be replaced — and that comes at a cost. The Penrith Business Improvement District, which has taken over responsibility for festive decorations in the town, has an annual budget of £20,000. It says it needs three times that to produce a new display which will prove an attraction to visitors and residents alike.

At a time when there are questions over the value for money provided by the town council — and when it is asking council tax payers to stump up more for the services it provides — some will ask whether that authority should be doing more to support the lights. Is it right to rely on the cash and goodwill of businesses and members of the public, who are also hard-pressed financially?

Penrith definitely needs some new festive lighting of which the community can be proud — and it would help if the town council could find a way of contributing significantly to the funding pot.

Surely few people would consider that as a waste of resources.