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Appeal for firms to fund Halesowen's festive lights
7:50am Thursday 13th September 2012 in News
THERE will be no sparkle to keep the tills jingling in Halesowen this Christmas - unless retailers and businesses come up with the funds for the festive lights.
That is the stark warning from the town’s chamber of trade, which is writing to all 130 shops plus other commercial firms, appealing for donations of at least £50.
Town hall austerity cuts have put Dudley Council ’s usual £5,000 contribution in jeopardy and the chamber fears it will struggle to raise even its regular £5,000 share of the cost of erecting and dismantling the lights.
Chamber chairman, florist Steve Fitzpatrick said: “It’s always a struggle trying to persuade shops and businesses to donate. Sandvik is always very supportive, but none of the large retailers like Asda and Wilkinsons contribute.”
“We don’t know what we will get from the council yet - but the budget has been cut by half so there has only been £10,000 for the town centre for the whole year, making it unlikely we’ll get the usual £5,000.”
He warned it was a “make or break” situation and is urging small shops and businesses to give £50 each and larger retailers £100 - or as much as they can afford.
“If we don’t get the donations we won’t be able to afford to put the lights up and they are a good display which attract shoppers, so it’s for the benefit of the businesses,” added Mr Fitzpatrick.
The switch-on ceremony costs in the region of a further £3,000 - with road closures, stewards, insurance and radio roadshow to pay, which he hopes the council will fund.
But if budgets are tight, the chamber may consider drastically scaling down the ceremony.
With only six weeks before the lights are due to go up, the chamber is hoping for a meeting with the council soon to establish what funds might be made available Mr Fitzpatrick said they were banking on a prompt response from the town’s businesses.