The cost of Eastleigh’s Christmas lights have rocketed by over 30% in the last four years a recent Freedom of Information request has revealed.
Eastleigh residents will be paying nearly £30,000 for their festive town centre decorations and Christmas tree this year compared to just over £20,000 in 2006.
This increase in expenditure is in contrast to the popularity of the annual switching on ceremony which is failing to draw the crowds it once did.
At last year’s ceremony only 5000 people, 3000 less than in 2008, braved wet and windy weather to see local celebrity, Chris Huhne MP mount the bandstand and wave cheerily at the crowd while being roundly booed (twice).
This years the winter festival will be on Saturday 20th November and will follow a similar formula to previous years.
Rock wall climbing will take place as usual from 10 am but the annual ‘Ice ‘skating on a small square of plastic event will be replaced this year by the rather less festive sport of bungee jumping.
A ‘grand procession’ through the town will take place from 5.15 pm and will feature a familiar looking Santa serenaded by the massed drums and bugles of the Romsey Town Old Boys Cadet Band (B Squad).
The switching on ceremony will be accompanied by howling feedback from the PA and followed by a free firework display which will end at about 6.30 – at which point the crowd will descend on the Town the en masse to discover all the shops have shut.
Throughout December the Swan Centre will remain open a whole extra hour during weekdays for shopping, closing at 6 pm. It has been confirmed there will be NO parking concessions to entice car driving Christmas present shoppers – in fact parking charges have been raised in time to encourage festive shoppers to travel to Eastleigh by foot, bike or public transport in line with council policy as outlined in the Eastleigh Town Access Plan (ETAP).
One resident remarked “It’s great to know the organisation of the most important trading period in the commercial calendar remains in such competent hands”
Photos: ©S Slominski ©Bill Chandler