Wind snuffs out town lights switch-on

FOR THE second consecutive year the weather put paid to plans for Montrose’s Christmas lights switch-on, which was cancelled on safety grounds.

The ceremony, due to be carried out by Rose Queen Kenzie Howard and Matthew Tomlinson from The Song Shop, should have taken place on Thursday evening but galeforce winds which buffeted the town during the day forced organisers to pull the plug.

Last year’s event also had to be cancelled due to heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures and Chris Banks, chairman of the Montrose Business and Retailers’ Association, said the move was “disappointing” after the amount of organisation that had gone into it.

The association stepped in last month to take over the event after an approach by Montrose Community Council, which had relinquished its involvement.

Mr Banks added, however, that the cancellation was justified as one lighting display at the High Street/Hume Street junction was blown down and a number of roofing slates dislodged by the wind fell on to the High Street.

He said: “We’re very disappointed after all the hard work that was put into it but it can’t be helped.

“We’d pulled out all the stop to get everything in place, but we just can’t help the weather.”

Local councillor David May, who was involved with organising the switch-on, said the decision had been taken after consultation with local police and Angus Council’s emergency planning officer.

He said: “A huge amount of work had gone into it again this year. St Mary’s and St Peter’s choir was to sing Christmas carols, the town band was going to provide Christmas music, he had Santa organised with gifts for the children and a small marquee as a grotto and the Coastguards were to be involved and most of Thursday was spent ringing round everyone to tell them.

“It’s disappointing that all that had to be cancelled but public safety had to be the priority.”

The Hume Street lights are unlikely to be returned to their position, also due to safety concerns.

A council spokeswoman said: “The cross-street feature was blown down during the severe weather on Thursday. The wall fixings were damaged, and we will require to have the bolts tested by a specialist company before any other decorations are put up at this location.

“Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be this year.”