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Dark! The herald angels sing

PUBLISHED: 17:51 23 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:38 03 July 2010

Workmen put up King Street lights

Workmen put up King Street lights

Dominic Bareham

A NEW festive lights display for King Street in Great Yarmouth was STILL being installed just days before Christmas Day.

The 2,400 fairy lights, costing £20,000, were finally completed on Sunday- four days AFTER the last of the late night shopping events.

A NEW festive lights display for King Street in Great Yarmouth was STILL being installed just days before Christmas Day.

The 2,400 fairy lights, costing £20,000, were finally completed on Sunday- four days AFTER the last of the late night shopping events.

And just two days before Christmas Day a third of the bulbs weren't working!

Contractors employed by the borough council finished installing the final section between Greenwoods and River Island, but the failure to have the whole King Street display working in time for the busy Christmas period has attracted stinging criticism from shopkeepers, who feel they have lost business because of the delay.

They were particularly angry that their area was left in darkness when Neighbours actress Caitlin Stasey switched on the town's Christmas lights on November 26.

June Wilde, manager of Body Shop, said: “I think it's disgusting. At the end of the day they are trying to boost the economy in the town and they have not got their act together.”

Jill Chapman at H Samuel, said: “It's disappointing and it does not feel Christmassy and lit up at this end of the town centre. On the late nights, there looked like there was plenty going on, but nothing at this end.”

Other stores in the unlit section of King Street include Clarks shoes, Adams Kids and Ryman stationers.

Jade Chapman, manager at Ryman, said: “There is no point in putting them up now, there aren't any late night shopping nights left. If people were coming for late night shopping and there were no lights along here they would think there was nothing here.”

Becky Dunn, manager of Adams Kids, was appalled.

She said: “The fact that the lights were not completed is appalling. It seems the Christmas spirit stopped at Marks and Spencer.”

Annette Westgate, manager at Clarks, believed traders were grateful for any help they could get to cope with the current economic downturn. The situation was made worse by the closure of stores such as Shoe Express.

She said: “Issues like this do not help the town, especially in the climate we are working in at the moment, so anything like the lack of Christmas lights is a negative.”

The Mercury's office was also left in darkness. Editor Anne Edwards said: “It's not as if Christmas just suddenly comes upon us, or is on a different date every year. Surely things could have been planned a little better?”

Town centre manager Jonathan Newman was also concerned about the lights situation as he is involved in helping to promote the town in his role with the Town Centre Partnership.

He said: “I am really disappointed the lights weren't on for the lights switch on and it is disappointing it has taken several weeks after the official lights switch on to get it finished.”

Michael Stephenson, the council's environmental services officer, told the Mercury in November the delays had been caused because workmen had to test the wall bolts which would hold the lights in place.

But he was not sure why the section between Greenwoods and River Island had taken so long to complete, and said workmen had decided to work their way up from the other end of King Street, which meant the Market Place end had been left till last.

He said: “For some reason they decided to come from south to north, but at the time I thought 'as long as they get it done I don't mind which way they come from'.”

He added the delay in finishing that final section meant some of the lights in King Street could not be switched on as they needed to be wired up to the same electricity box above Victoria Arcade. Further problems had been caused by scaffolding at the St George's Road end of King Street which had prevented workmen from connecting up the cable carrying the lights.

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