Hundreds of thousands to be spent on Christmas lights in Cheltenham

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Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 6:04pm

By Carmelo Garcia - Local Democracy Reporter

Civic leaders say Father Christmas will be looking forward to visiting Cheltenham as they have agreed to spend more than £235,000 on festive lights over the next five years.

Cheltenham borough councillors are hoping the investment will help create a buzz around the town over the festive period which will attract more visitors and boost the economy.

They say the prosperity of the town centre during this period is key for local businesses and want to support the spirit of Christmas for residents to enjoy.

To achieve this, cabinet members have agreed to provide a yearly grant of £47,000 to the Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) until January 2026.

This will contribute to the BID’s costs of providing Christmas lights in the town centre and the switch-on.

The council will also meet the cost of the electricity consumption incurred by the lights.

Culture, wellbeing and business cabinet member Victoria Atherstone (Lib Dem, St Peters) said: “The Christmas lights and the activation events in the festive period are really important for our town centre.

“The prosperity of our town during this key period is really important, not only for businesses across the town centre, but also for residents and visitors to Cheltenham who really want to enjoy the spirit of Christmas.

“It’s very important that we continue with this activity as we deal with the recovery that has been brought upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

She said the recent renewal of the BID meant it was the right time to enter a longer-term contract to give certainty and allow them to plan better.

Cllr Martin Horwood (Lib Dem, Leckhampton) said it was shaping up to be an absolutely fabulous Christmas for Cheltenham with an expanded market and ice rink also planned for this year.

“If we’ve got Christmas lights over more of the town centre we are looking at a really fabulous and noticeably better-looking Christmas,” he said.

“If Father Christmas is watching he will be planning ahead and looking forward to coming to Cheltenham.”

In 2017, Cheltenham Borough Council signed a contract with the BID to supply, erect, maintain and remove the Christmas lights, together with organising and running the Christmas switch-on.

Before this, the council had owned a range of displays, which had become challenging to maintain because of their age.

The council also said the old lights were staid in respect of the display, which was static year on year and did not respond to the increasing demand from businesses and residents to improve them.

Since 2017, there have been two full changes in light displays, with extensions of areas covered, including Pittville Street, Winchcombe Street, Cambray Place and The Strand.

This year, the Christmas lights area will be extended to cover the town centre sections of Bath Road, Bayshill Road, St George’s Place, St George’s Road and Royal Well, reflecting the wider geography now covered by the BID.

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