LOCAL businesses have stepped in to ensure that this year’s cancelled Christmas lights switch-on goes ahead after all.
The annual ceremony at the Town House, at which the tree is illuminated, was shelved in September due to a lack of money.
But Montrose Community Council later approached Montrose Business and Retailers’ Association chairman Chris Banks with the proposal that the organisation take over the running of the event.
At the community council meeting last week chairman Peter Davies welcomed the businesses’ involvement and said the whole lighting situation had “taken a lot of working on” because of the funding available.
It was also welcomed by local councillor Mark Salmond who said it is “good news” that the businesses are “re-engaging with the event.”
He said: “It’s good news to have a partnership approach going on and it’s good they have come back on board and are working with the community council on this.
“It is, after all, the small private businesses who have contributed to the lights and the Christmas Extravaganza.”
The decision to pull the plug on the event was taken jointly by community and Angus councillors after an examination of the finances available for the lights’ provision and maintenance.
It followed repeated but unheeded appeals by the community council throughout the year for the Montrose public to come forward to assist in fund-raising and organising this year’s display.
Mr Davies also reiterated that some of the lighting displays from Hume Street have been relocated to Murray Street in recognition of the contribution businesses there have made to the scheme.
He said: “It’s a lot better because the shopkeepers in Murray Street are the lifeblood of the town and we want to support them.”
Mr Banks this week said that after contact with the community council, and coverage in the Review, he had been contacted by several local businesses keen to see the event continue this year.
He said: “The association decided, albeit with a very small committee, that we had enough to organise it this year.
“In the spring I hope to organise a meeting with retailers to get more people on to the committee. It takes money to run these things and although we had some funds available we have insurance etc., to pay for. Unless we can get funds in following years I don’t want to see those funds depleted but we will have a go this year and see how it goes.”
Mr Banks added that the planned switch-on for Thursday, December 1, will have to be reconsidered as Angus Council’s roads department has informed him it is no longer available. Alternative dates of December 2 or December 8 have been suggested and will be discussed by his committee, although the street lights will still be operational from December 1.