Christmas arrives in Hedge End…

Crowds gather to see Hedge Ends Lights switched on

Crowds gather to see Hedge Ends Lights switched on

A large crowd gathered in Hedge End this evening, to see The Mayor of Eastleigh, Cllr Tony Noyce, and Hedge End’s Carnival Queen, Harri Killen, switch on Hedge End’s Christmas lights.

The switch on ceremony itself was rather brief, with the crowd enjoying the traditional countdown before the ceremonial plunger was depressed, but was preceded by some seasonal entertainment from local choirs and dancers.

Berrywood School Choir, Cheer-a Cality, Shamblehurst School, The Wildern Choir and the New Music Makers all contributed prior to the switch-on and an excellent brass ensemble from the Salvation Army closed the proceedings.

Councillor’s Allingham, Welsh and Wheatley were seen helping to marshall the proceedings, with Cllr Welsh also acting as a very competent compere for the entertainment.

Entertainers from the forthcoming production of Jack, at the Berry Theatre, were also seen entertaining the crowd, with a cheeky chicken the star attraction.

As has become customary, the event was split across both sides of Lower Northam Road, with the service road closed to allow a marquee to be set up for stall holders.

Stall holders in the Marquee

Stall holders in the Marquee

Is this too close to the road..?

But is this too close to the road..?

Because of the layout of the service road, the rear of Marquee was just a few feet from the passing traffic.

When asked about this, Cllr Wheatley explained;

“The ceremony tends to slow the traffic down. We are not too concerned about this.  We can be over-cautious about Health & Safety.”

Hedge End’s Labour Campaigner, Andrew Helps, explained;

“This is the only thing I would criticise the Council for.  The road should be closed so that the Marquee can be situated in the middle.”

Also spotted at the ceremony was the Labour PPC for Eastleigh, Mark Latham, who was there enjoying the ceremony with his young family. Although the Labour team were rosetted and both men were happy to talk to anybody who approached them, neither were actively campaigning at the ceremony.

After the big switch-on, the Mayor and Mayoress were also seen chatting to anybody  who wished to do so, with the Mayor also cheerfully posing for ‘selfies’ with one lucky member of the public.

When I asked for a comment for Eastleigh News, the Mayor of Eastleigh Cllr Tony Noyce  said;

“It has been great to move around Eastleigh and do all the Christmas festivities. We’ve done a nativity already plus three switching ons. It’s a great time and we’re very thankful to be invited to do this honour.”

The Mayoress, Mrs Janice Noyce added;

“Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone”

  7 comments for “Christmas arrives in Hedge End…

  1. Sue
    December 4, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    If it was possible to close the road it would make for a better event? I dont know how practical that would be though. It’s always a shame that the huge amount of traffic noise tends to drown out the choirs.

    • December 5, 2014 at 12:33 am

      I’m not sure what the answer is Sue.

      Closing the road in the evening rush hour seems unlikely for one marquee with Tombola stalls and so on. Equally, the split location on opposite sides of the road is far from ideal…

      • Andrew Helps
        December 5, 2014 at 9:41 am

        I would say that my comments about the road closure would have ensured safety of all the people crossing the road. It only takes one accident to change the whole tone of the event. But Apart from that the people that I spoke to on the Marque side of the road were enjoying themselves and the lights were fantastic.

  2. John Renard
    December 4, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Credit is due to the organisers and all who volunteered their time and energy. Thanks to them.

    As the man rightly said, too much heed can be paid to ‘elfin safety’. In France they run many enjoyable local events without the paranoid palaver we suffer over here. The French people simply take over the streets and the traffic slowly moves around them – wonderful!

    • December 5, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Agreed John, about the organisation & the volunteers.

      We might be stuck with the split location, but all it would require to make Elf and Safety acceptable is some crash barriers along that narrow section of pavement. It is nomansland really, not the sort of place where pedestrians would sensibly walk, so the Armco would do no harm there.

      In fact, given that the service road is routinely used for these events & could perhaps be used for a small local market on other occasions too, there is a strong case to put the barriers there. Even if the traffic conditions are such that they are not required ordinarily..

      We had three Borough Councillors there last night and we also have three County Councillors multi-hatting on the Town Council. I am surprised none of them have had the foresight to push the Highways Dept at the County Council for such barriers to be installed at this site.

  3. December 5, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I completely agree with you Andrew.

    If you (or anybody else) cares to stand and observe Lower Northam Road for a while, any day of the week, I guarantee that you will see people crossing the road in places other than the formal crossing. In some cases, cars will stop to let them cross safely.

    Now that is the kind of thing that can easily cause accidents and with a large crowd attracted to the event, there is increased possibility of such Jaywalking occurring. If it is dark there is further increased risk of an accident, as pedestrians might not be seen until the last second. All things considered, it is not inconceivable that a vehicle could swerve to avoid an accident and plough into the tent…

    Cllr Wheatley’s argument was that it is a low risk site ordinarily, therefore acceptable to place the marquee there. He may be right, but I suggest that the circumstances change when this event is taking place. The risk is different and it needs to be taken more seriously than the Lib Dems are currently inclined to do.

    The solution, which will cost money but is relatively easy, is to install crash barriers at that site.

    Perhaps HEWEB could pay for it, if they can bring themselves to stop funding inappropriate things, like that boxing club at the Rose Bowl…

    • Sue
      December 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      I’m not too worried re the safety side. I just think it would make the whole thing far more enjoyable without the constant really loud noise of the traffic. I wonder if it would be an option to divert as much traffic as possible and slow the rest down in some way?

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