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Christmas lights switch-on event facing an uncertain future

PUBLISHED: 15:28 18 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:51 18 January 2019

Dereham's Market Place was packed for the Christmas lights switch on.  Picture: Michael Lyons Photography

Dereham's Market Place was packed for the Christmas lights switch on. Picture: Michael Lyons Photography

Michael Lyons

The future of the Dereham Christmas lights switch-on event has been cast into doubt after the group behind organising it announced it was stepping down from the responsibility.

Dereham Christmas lights switch on. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDereham Christmas lights switch on. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Dereham Carnival Committee has decided to hand the task of coordinating the annual Christmas lights switch-on back to Dereham Town Council.

Council clerk Tony Needham said the future of the switch-on event is not yet clear and will be decided on in June, after the elections have taken place.

It follows just days after Roger Atterwill, whose company Wensum Valley Electrical Ltd has voluntarily installed the display in the Market Place for four years, also announced he would be stepping down from his role.

Mr Needham said: “We don’t know [about the switch-on] yet. It will be decided after the elections. The tree and the lights will always go up.

“It is a real shame. They brought a lot of enthusiasm and new ideas to it. It would be great if other volunteers would want to get involved.

“They were putting and bringing funding in. They were bringing sponsorships in that we weren’t able to get. It always ends up being better than if it is organised by our staff.

“We were doing it until two years ago when the carnival committee offered to take it over. It takes up a lot of officers’ time in terms of organising it, if they are doing that then they aren’t doing something else.

“The council will have to decide whether to organise it next year.”

A spokesperson for Dereham Carnival Commitee said: “Unfortunately funding to make a really memorable event is a struggle when the available budget from the town council is just £5,000.

“After they have purchased the tree, tree surgeons’ services and a cherry picker it left the contribution that they could make us at £500.

“Dereham Carnival Committee subsidised the event for the last two years, in year one by £4,500 and in year two by £1,075. Sadly the carnival commitee can no longer justify that loss to our funds and the town council’s budget for the lights shows no sign of being increased.

“We made this decision as a committee who are extremely proud of what we have achieved in the last two years with the lights. There have been lots of smiles and hopefully lots of happy memories created for the town’s children.”

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