Exeter high street faces Christmas with no lights
Exeter High Street is again threatened with having no Christmas lights.
City council leader Pete Edwards is adamant that it cannot fund them – and says the cost must fall on the retailers.
As he did last year, Mr Edwards is to write to all High Street retailers, asking them to contribute to the lights. He will tell them that unless they pledge money for the lights by August, Exeter will have to do without them.
Mr Edwards said: "The city council can't afford to pay for the lights – we have had to make £2 million in cuts this year. I am writing to all the High Street shops this month asking them to send in their money by August, and if they don't there will be no Christmas lights."
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Richard Ball, Exeter's assistant director of economy, said: "In the past we have always co-ordinated and organised the lights, but over the years contributions from the retailers have dwindled. The city council has no money in the budget to pay for this year's Christmas lights in the High Street."
The Christmas lights were only saved last year after a campaign led by the city council and city centre manager John Harvey.
Even if the High Street remains devoid of festive lights, bosses at Princesshay and the Guildhall Shopping Centre have pledged to continue with their displays.
Guildhall centre manager Andrew McNeilly said: "We have a limited budget, but we have invested it over the last five years in an ever-growing display. It utilises the latest technology so is very reliable and the cost of maintaining it is reduced.
"We will be going ahead with our own lighting-up ceremony, so if the High Street is dark and gloomy we won't be."
Wayne Pearce, centre director of Princesshay, said: "We will, as usual, have a Christmas lighting scheme this year. The scheme is wholly funded by Princesshay retailers and is a key element of our Christmas events calendar."