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Kenilworth's Christmas Set In The Dark Ages?

The lights could be going out in Kenilworth, as there has been a lack of support for the town’s festive illuminations display.

A shortfall of nearly £8,000 means it is down to traders and fundraisers to bridge the gap, or Christmas could be cancelled as far as the lights are concerned.

A public meeting held last night to drum support attracted only seven new people. Although they were full of drive, it may not be enough to save the show.

That could leave Kenilworth as one of the largest towns in the country with no festive illuminations.

The town has generated a lot of interest and publicity attracting huge crowds to the turning on its lights on the last Friday of each November. The closing of the main road allows thousands of people to enjoy the switching-on ceremony and an evening of entertainment.

But now the show could be over. By using its reserves over the last few years, there is now not enough money to make sure the show will go on in 2000.

There has been a pledge by Warwick District Council for £4,500 towards the running costs, and the town council will give £3,000 for new lights.

John Hatfield, chairman of the illuminations committee said:

“I do not want to see Kenilworth without lights, but what else can we do? We could put lights up just around the Clock Tower and the few people who have contributed, but that would cause bad feeling.

“There is only one way to be fair and that is to do nothing this year. 

"I do not want to see Kenilworth without lights but there are only three or four weeks left before we have to make a final decision.

“It is up to the traders to put in some more money. We need to know of firm promises soon, so we can make a decision. 

“If I had my way, they would go up. A lot of people would feel cheated if the lights did not go up.”

The town council has already agreed to light the Abbey Hill War Memorial, which stands on the edge of the town centre and the Abbey Fields.

Mr Hatfield said:

“I do not want to give up on the lights. But we have to be realistic. There are not that many shopping days left before Christmas. 

"We will have to see what money is coming in and then decide what we are going to do.”

There will be another meeting open to the public next Wednesday (23 August) where willing volunteers with ideas to fund raise will be welcome. 

Joe Baconnet, Kenilworth town centre manager, said: 

"If it does fail this year, it will not be for the want of trying. 

"We are putting a package together for the traders so they can buy a shield for about £60 and have their name on the High Street for 42 days around Christmas.

"For the same money they would probably only get a credit-card sized advert in a newspaper.

If we do not have the lights this year, then that could galvanise people to make a bigger effort next time.

"I have to admit I have not come up with any sparkling ideas to make the fundraising easy but we are trying our best. We welcome anyone's ideas."

To find out more about the campaign, or to lend support, call John Hatfield on 01926 777932

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CWN / Politics / Warwick District Council / 16 Aug 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM