Town gets into festive mood as lights are switched on

JPCT 201112 Christmas lights in Horsham town centre. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 201112 Christmas lights in Horsham town centre. Photo by Derek Martin

Festive cheer has graced grateful businesses, after Horsham’s Christmas lights were switched on in the town centre last week.

Although there are the same number of lights as last year, Horsham District Council has added Christmas trees in the Carfax and West Street and changed some of the designs of the overhead displays.

The effect has been welcomed by businesses and shoppers across the town.

“Lovely. It’s really beautiful. It is perfect for Horsham,” said Geri Stoyanova, 36, of Middle Street newcomer Steisi.

“When it’s dark people usually stay at home, but with the lights people can come out for a fancy walk,” added Andrea Bari, 40, who set up the shoe shop with her colleague eight weeks ago.

Naveed Akram, of West Street’s phone clinic, is eagerly awaiting the first influx of customers guided by the bright lights. “It’s good for our business. The people come for something special and they will get it,” said the 27-year-old.

However, as about 150 people gathered for the Piries Place lights switch-on on Saturday, there has been disappointment that there was no official switch-on for Horsham’s main lights.

Horsham District Council, said that there has not been the budget for an event for the past eight years.

A spokesman said: “The council last had the budget for a major lights switch-on event in 2004. At that time the council spent over £70,000 on Christmas lights in Horsham and now it only has the ability to use around 20 per cent of that amount, which is agreed currently by the Neighbourhood Councils and all of which goes into the lights themselves.

“Working with Horsham Unlimited, the Town Centre Business Partnership, the council uses what resources it does have to support third party run events around the town and the Dressed for Success shop window competition and marketing campaign, which promotes visits to the town over the whole Christmas shopping period and especially highlights those businesses that make an effort with their window displays.

“In recent years the majority of Horsham’s businesses have declined to contribute money to Christmas lights at anything like the level needed to fund a display.

“HDC was approached by a local agency on behalf of a couple of businesses with a view to sponsoring a small element of the lighting this year but this occurred too late to have an influence on this year’s installation which had been planned months in advance.

What do you think of the Christmas lights? How should the town fund a switch on event? Leave your comments below or email ct.letters@sussexnewspapers.co.uk