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Call for help with Kendal festive lights cash
TOWN centre businesses are being urged to do more to support Kendal’s Christmas lights.
It may be summer, but preparations for the £3,000 display – funded entirely by Kendal Town Council – start months in advance.
Father Christmas and his reindeer are booked and the council has slashed its electricity bill by £900 to buy more efficient lighting and improve decorations at the Birdcage, Stramongate, Allhallows Lane and Finkle Street.
But, as public money becomes more scarce, the commercial sector is being encouraged to help brighten up the town for a crucial trading period.
Currently, traders do not contribute towards the display and the Mayor of Kendal, John Willshaw, said some wrongly believed that business rates helped pay for the lights.
He said: “A lot of people come into Kendal for Christmas. It’s good for businesses and we need to encourage people to come and shop here for the whole Christmas period.
“Kendal is a thriving town and we want to keep it that way, and by putting on a good Christmas lights show, we will encourage people to come and spend money here.”
Clare Feeney-Johnson, the council’s Christmas Lights and Festivals Committee chairman, wants more business involvement.
She said: “As times get tougher financially, we need to work with others to achieve quality services that benefit the town.
“I’m hoping 2012 will see greater input from the commercial sector and that together we achieve that aim.”
Coun Feeney-Johnson said it was important the town centre was an attractive place to shop, particularly in harsh economic times.
She added: “The added feel-good factor the festive lights bring will hopefully add to the success of the retail offer and be reflected in the economy.”
Derek Armstrong, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce chairman, said plans to make Kendal a Business Improvement District (BID) would help traders play their part.
Companies are being consulted on proposals to tax them one per cent of their rateable value to fund enhancement projects.
Mr Armstrong said: “We’re still experiencing difficult times on the high street.
“That being said, Christmas lights is one of the items that is a prime example of what we could achieve if Kendal became a BID.”
He added festive trading was ‘absolutely crucial’ for businesses as it ‘carried them through’ until early spring.