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Watton mayor tells of town lights dash

PUBLISHED: 09:34 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 11:08 08 July 2010

Only a last minute dash to Harwich by the mayor ensured that Watton was lit up for Christmas this year but the town council has pledged that 2009's festive display will be its best ever.

Only a last minute dash to Harwich by the mayor ensured that Watton was lit up for Christmas this year but the town council has pledged that 2009's festive display will be its best ever.

After having opted to invest in new state-of-the-art eco-friendly LED fairy lights earlier this year a series of problems almost meant they were stuck on the other side of the world when townsfolk should have been watching them being switched on.

The council and Watton Chamber of Trade split the £4,000 cost of the lights but, after having placed the order with a company in China, problems with the holding bank to which they both paid money meant that the shipping date was missed.

Finally another ship was found to bring them to England but even when they arrived in the UK the saga did not end.

The lights got held up and customs and were placed in a bonded warehouse.

With time ticking on and only days to go before the official November 30 festive fair, Watton's mayor, Paul McCarthy, took it upon himself to save the switch on and personally drove down to Harwich in a lorry to collect them.

He said: “We have done everything within our power to put on a display this year but the delays meant we were left with almost a month's work to do within seven days.

“We bought enough lights to do a really good display and we were going to use the old frames and put the new lights onto them but that takes a long time.”

For this year the long strips of coloured LED lighting have simply been strewn along High Street which gives the street a pleasant festive glow in the evening but means the Santa and candlestick shapes of former displays have largely disappeared.

Numerous people have complained that the lights have failed to live up to the high standards of previous years.

But Mr McCarthy said he was certain that next year's display would be one of the shining lights in Breckland's festive crown and that the new system would bring benefits to the town in more ways than one.

He said: “During this year we will get more frames to put the lights round and we will be refitting the old ones too.

“Putting the lights up is no longer just a matter of putting a ladder up in the High Street either because of Health and Safety so we will be getting special clip fittings to make things easier in future.

“In the long run the lights will save on our energy bills because they work on about 30pc of the power.

“Next year the lights will lift the town.”

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