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‘We can’t spare the money’ - Christmas lights switch-ons in two coastal towns cancelled for 2020

PUBLISHED: 09:37 13 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 13 August 2020

Great Yarmouth Christmas Lights switch on 2019. PHOTO: GYBC/Gary Philo

Great Yarmouth Christmas Lights switch on 2019. PHOTO: GYBC/Gary Philo

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Traditional Christmas lights switch-on events in two towns on the coast have been cancelled this year over concerns as to whether social distancing will still be in place.

Great Yarmouth Christmas Lights switch on 2019. PHOTO: Reece HansonGreat Yarmouth Christmas Lights switch on 2019. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

Great Yarmouth Town Centre Partnership and Gorleston Traders Association have confirmed the lights will still be put up in the towns, but switch-on events with stalls and rides will not happen.

Jonathan Newman, Great Yarmouth Town Centre Manager and organiser of its switch-on, said: “With social distancing to stay safe and keep the virus at bay still very much part of our everyday lives it is difficult to consider planning an event that is designed to encourage a mass gathering of people all together in one place.

“So, sadly, I can confirm that the traditional annual Great Yarmouth town centre light switch-on and roof top firework display will not take place this year.”

A spokesperson for Great Yarmouth Borough Council has said officials are hoping to arrange special festive activities in the town centre to support Christmas shopping, though the exact format will be governed by the social distancing requirements that are in place at the time.

Jonathan Newman, Great Yarmouth Town Centre Manager, at the outdoor market. Picture: Nick Butcher.Jonathan Newman, Great Yarmouth Town Centre Manager, at the outdoor market. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Kevin Huggins, chairman of Gorleston Traders Association, said: “The money is better put aside to help businesses. We don’t even know when we can put big crowds together again at the moment.

“We had to make a decision whether to pay for fireworks and a skating rink, and we just thought we can’t spare that sort of money.

“We’ll have the Christmas feeling down the High Street but no big switch-on ceremony,” he added.

The decisions follows similar early cancellations in Diss, Cromer, Wells and North Walsham.

Kevin Huggins, chairman of Gorleston Traders Association.Kevin Huggins, chairman of Gorleston Traders Association.

Last year’s switch-on in Great Yarmouth saw £5,000 spent on casting the seasonal glow over the town centre, with a firework display delighting spectators after the countdown to the switch on saw the Christmas Tree and Market Gates lit up.

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