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Boost for Dereham Christmas lights

PUBLISHED: 15:03 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 14:46 07 July 2010

Forget the X Factor - Dereham will have the "Wow factor" this year with a brand new Christmas lights display in the town centre.

That is the bold prediction from town councillors who have voted to spend an extra £3000 on creating a "fantastic," "absolutely stunning" and "absolutely stupendous.

Forget the X Factor - Dereham will have the “Wow factor” this year with a brand new Christmas lights display in the town centre.

That is the bold prediction from town councillors who have voted to spend an extra £3000 on creating a “fantastic,” “absolutely stunning” and “absolutely stupendous.”

A total of £11,000 will be invested by the council to buy white LED lights and for the installation and having them on in the run up to the festive season.

Last year it took a last-minute public appeal - supported by the Times - to get enough money for the lights and the switch-on ceremony, which always attracts thousands of people into the town centre.

This year town councillors are working with members of the Dereham Christmas Lights Partnership to ensure the town has displays to be proud of.

But it took the casting vote of town mayor Lynda Turner on Tuesday to ensure the extra £3000 was agreed after members had voted 4-4.

Michael Fanthorpe said the town council had spent about £2-3000 a year refurbishing the old lights - and he said last year the lights were “embarrassing.”

“Sandy Lane looked better than the Market Place. This year is going to look fantastic. The whole Market Place will be covered with white lights. We owe the town this.”

Exact details of what there will be are being kept under wraps, although there will be search lights for the switch-on event on Sunday November 30.

Mr Fanthorpe added: “We wanted lasers - but they would cost £6000 a day, so we decided we could not have those!”

John Gretton said: “We have come up with a scheme which will be absolutely stunning. There will be a real wow factor and we are looking forward to putting Dereham on the map.”

He said people often talked about going to Holt to see impressive lights - and he wanted them to say Dereham was the place to visit for a great display.

Mr Gretton said the colourful elephants in Norwich had helped boost trade in the city and he predicted a similar boost could be felt by Dereham with the new lights.

He added that the lights switch on event was the one big public gathering in the town of the year.

“I am very proud to be associated with this,” said Mr Gretton.

Robin Goreham said a lot of taxpayers' money had been spent in the past on a “third rate lighting system” which had left people disappointed when they were switched on.

“We owe it to the people to do it right. I am sure the public would rather have a first rate lighting display which attracts more people into the town. They are going to be absolutely stupendous.”

Steve May said: “With all the doom and gloom about let's cheer people up and we should support the extra money.”

But Phillip Duigan said he was worried about using 60pc of the council's grants budget on lights.

Ann Bowyer agreed. “I am not very happy about an extra £3000. This is taxpayers' money.”

Timothy Birt said: “It does not seem right that at the moment we should be spending such an amount of money on a light show.”

*The Times will give regular updates on preparations for the big switch-on.

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