Campaign launched to improve St Albans Christmas lights

The old town hall with its christmas lights switched on

The old town hall with its christmas lights switched on - Credit: Archant

Complaints about St Albans’ Christmas tree lights being ‘rubbish’ have prompted a bid to raise thousands of pounds to brighten up the city centre this season with a vastly improved display.

The view up St Peter's Street from the top of the clock tower

The view up St Peter's Street from the top of the clock tower - Credit: Archant

And the idea has won support from local residents and businesses, all keen to dip in to their own pockets to help out, despite the £4,247 price tag.

St Albans district councillor Alun Davies has launched a campaign to improve the lighting of the city’s two Christmas trees outside the Town Hall and the Alban Arena.

His ‘Light up St Albans’ bid via crowdfunding platform, Spacehive, has been so successful that in just eight days pledges totalled £1,209.

According to Cllr Davies’ Spacehive page, among the generous locals and businesses supporting the campaign is a woman keen to donate on behalf of her “lovely mum who died this year…she can help light up other people’s lives for a few weeks”.

Christmas lights along St Peters Street

Christmas lights along St Peters Street - Credit: Archant

The councillor explained: “I’m on the council’s city neighbourhood committee, and the issue has come up over the past 18 months, for example who is paying for the lights, and that they are rubbish – everyone complains about them.

“So, as I’m a resident, I thought I’d do something about it.”

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He is seeking backing to the tune of £4,247, the bulk of which is for “high-end Christmas lights, which don’t come cheap”.

Cllr Davies added: “People have been asking why the council doesn’t pay for better lighting. It will pay for lights, but I think we can do better. These would look really nice at Christmas.”

He pointed out that some councils had decided against installing lights to celebrate the festive season because of the need to cut costs, and such decorations were not an essential service for authorities.

The district council’s budget for Christmas lights for 2014/15 was £19,400, which included electricity costs and maintenance.

A report to the neighbourhood committee in March warned that Christmas lights used in trees along each side of St Peter’s Street, and near the Clock Tower since 2008 are reaching the end of their natural life.

Cllr Davies said: “I have confirmed with the council that if I manage to raise the money to buy improved lights, that it will pay the current contractor to install, maintain and take down the improved lights.”

He described the public response to his campaign as ‘very positive’ with a local estate agent pledging £400, and an optician offering £250 towards the costs.

Pledges will only be charged if the project reaches its funding goal in just over a fortnight, by November 1.

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