Business owners to be ordered to remove Christmas lights

HIGH Street business owners will be ordered to take down their Christmas lights immediately.

HIGH Street business owners will be ordered to take down their Christmas lights immediately.

North Somerset Council says the festive lights in Worle, which have been there since December, need to be removed straight away.

Business owners in the village thought they would be saving thousands of pounds by leaving the decorations in place all-year-round and only lighting them up at Christmas.

Worle High Street Traders Association thought of the plan as a way to keep a bit more cash in the coffers during the economic downturn.

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Now North Somerset Council has said the lights are contravening regulations, that the licence to keep them up has expired and they have to be removed.

Worle resident Roger Brown contacted the authority to complain about the lights staying up and called the traders 'penny pinching' for leaving them there.

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The Weston In Bloom committee member said: "Christmas lights add to the overhead clutter and are not acceptable as a permanent feature.

"The lights will deteriorate, not as a result of rust but by virtue of dust, black mould, bird fouling and other elements.

"To my knowledge no other town or village does it, certainly none that care for their environment."

The money to pay for the Christmas lights comes from business and community donations, as well as from a town council pot of money.

But this year, businesses gave less cash than normal and the association was looking for ways to cut down on spending.

Worle High Street Traders Association chairman Mike Skidmore said: "North Somerset Council has been co-operative with this matter and the issue of whether to leave the lights up is in negotiation.

"Following a recent traders' meeting, it was unanimously voted that some of the fixed lights should stay up, as this would save time, storage and a lot of money.

"We welcome Mr Brown's comments but in the current credit crunch climate I disagree that we are being 'penny pinching'.

"We are saving money at a time when businesses cannot donate as much cash towards the lights as they may have been able to in previous years."

As the Mercury went to press, the traders were due to be told they can approach the unitary authority's planning department and ask for permission to keep the decorations up all-year-round.

But the council cannot give them an idea at this stage of whether that would require a full planning application or even whether it would be successful.

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