Dimmed Christmas Spirits in Canterbury


In an effort to conserve finances this holiday season, the Canterbury City Council has opted out of publicly lighting up the High Street over Christmas – much to the dismay of the city’s residents.

Estimated at about £56,000, putting up lights around town is too much of an expense this year when the council has been hard pressed to deal with the city’s budget crisis. While spending close to £1m less this year than previous years, council leader John Gilbey is adamant in his decision, stating, “It was inevitable that this day would come. Christmas lights were a nice thing to do when we had money, but now they are not of sufficient quality to make a difference and there is simply no cash to invest in new displays.”

With a 20.7% decrease in government grants over the last two years, it is the council’s objective to focus on the necessities of the city, striking out commodities such as the lights. Funding in the upcoming months is instead going towards repaving roads at a cost of £103,000. With a plan to stock up savings of £5.5million by 2017, the High Street’s illumination is an endeavour not worth pursuing this year.

The lack of light chains overhanging the streets this year has sparked some controversy amongst Canterbury residents, many feeling embarrassed at the city’s lack of holiday spirit. Canterbury, being in many ways a religious centerpiece of the UK, should not be seen in this state according to the leader of the Canterbury Independent Traders Alliance, John Hippisley.

Many residents of the city agree with this sentiment, arguing that the lack of lights make the city look “dull, dark and depressing.” Furthermore, Hippisley is concerned that shoppers will avoid the city this season due to its lack of festive mood, flocking instead to the nearby Bluewater shopping centre in Greenhithe which is brightly lit this year.

While resident Steve Coomb staged a protest last week, it does not look like Canterbury’s Council will be reversing their decision.

Whitefriars and the King’s Mile, at least, have privately funded their own lights this year, and a rather wide Christmas tree can be found standing in the city centre (complete with council-funded £2,000 lights).


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