Bah humbug! Licensing failings scupper Southdown Christmas lights display in Harpenden

PUBLISHED: 20:00 25 October 2017 | UPDATED: 07:39 26 October 2017

Southdown Christmas lights

Southdown Christmas lights


Christmas lights will not be put up outside many Southdown shops this year because of failings in meeting licensing requirements.

arpenden town council said there is a problem with the anchor bolts used to fix the festive lights outside shops in Southdown Road, and this could not be fixed in time for this year’s lights switch-on.

There will still be Christmas lights put up on Southdown’s light columns, and on the Christmas tree.

Karl Jelley, who owns Jelley’s Meats in Southdown, said: “I thought that was part of their job - it’s what we pay our council tax for.

“If that’s the case why did it take them so long to take them down last year? From memory they were up there until March, maybe longer.

“They want us to pay for hanging baskets outside our shops but they are not willing to put the lights up.”

Brian Taylor, who works in Southdown Hardware, said: “What we are a bit griped 
about is the fact that these 
lights have been going up for God knows how many years. 
We can’t understand why after all this time the lights are unsafe.

“I have been playing guitar outside the shop for 22 years - those old-fashioned bulbs were OK then. These days they are LED and the chaps who do the fitting do it to a high standard. We’re a bit peeved about it.”

A town council spokesman said: “Each year we have to apply for a licence from Ringway to allow us to put up festive lighting above pavements and the road.

“The licensing process was changed last year bringing in much more stringent requirements. As part of our approach to securing the licence, we carry out annual checks on various aspects of health and safety. When carrying out these checks this year we identified a problem with the anchor bolts used for the lights above the Southdown shops and with the power supply feeding those lights.

“Unfortunately, there was not an appropriate quick solution to the problem that could be implemented in time for this year’s Southdown switch-on so we have had to take the decision not to include them in the scheme. Their inclusion in the scheme would have meant we would not have got a licence and this would have jeopardised being able to have the wider Christmas tree and lamp column displays.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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