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No festive lights for Watton High Street this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 06:30 21 November 2012

The town sign of Watton.

The town sign of Watton.

Archant

There will be no Christmas lights and festive market in Watton High Street this year because of a lack of volunteers.

But Watton Town Council has suggested £7,500 be included in its budget next year for festive lights – and more could become available from this year’s budget.

A Christmas tree will be put up in Chaston Place, off the High Street, with lights on and the town team has stepped in to organise Christmas events for the town this year.

The council is looking for a contractor for next year’s lights.

Chris Edwards, businessman and chairman of the Watton Town Team, said: “We have picked up as much as we can. We are pleased that the town council made records available. We are pleased that the Christmas market and lights will be up next year in what I’m led to believe will be a far better show.

“Ultimately all of these organisations have got to work together. The town council has worked with us in giving us details of festive market stallholder names. They have allowed us to make the best of this year.”

Some 20 charity stalls, who were regulars on the Christmas market, will be setting up on December 15 on the High Street alongside the town team’s Entrepreneurs’ Christmas Market, from 8am.

Santa’s Grotto will be in the town clock between 10am and noon and 1pm-2.30pm that day.

A Christmas Crawl to encourage shoppers to visit independent retailers for prizes has also been organised by the town team.

The Christmas Festive Market and the white lights, which started in 2006, have been maintained and put up for the past five years by five people on a lighting and market committee. This group was separate to the council and disbanded earlier this year.

Paul Cooper, town council chairman, said there was a lack of younger volunteers coming forward to help with the lights and there were a lot of health and safety issues to comply with.

He added past volunteers had suffered verbal abuse while their ladders blocked the pavement when the lights were being put up.

Roy Ivory, a Watton town councillor and former committee member, said the cost of keeping the lights up-to-date over the past five years was £10,000 and the Christmas market cost £3,000 each year.

The committee received about £2,700 each year from the council.

Mr Ivory added: “The whole idea is to go like Swaffham and Dereham in as much as they can hire lights. We have done what we can cheaply and now we have got to look at putting money aside to look at a contractor to put the lights up. They will be different each year.

“The people in Watton want lights and it should push the council in the right direction. It might be a bit sad this year but I’m hoping that by doing this it will make for a great Christmas next year.”

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