Now that they’re gone, I thought it might be worth talking about the Haslemere Christmas lights. They are by far the biggest single item of discretionary expenditure made by Haslemere Town Council all year.
They’re not only in the High Street but also on Lower Street, Weyhill, Lion Lane, at Hindhead as you may have seen. All provided by the Council which also contributes cash to the traders in Beacon Hill who organise their own display.
The quality of the lights has improved a lot in the last few years and almost all of them are now modern LED fittings.
There are comments that they’re turned on too early, but Councillors want to get the most bang for their (ie the tax-payers’) buck and with the clocks going back, these pretty lights do cheer up the dark evenings.
The most important factor Councillors have in mind though, is the support the lights give Haslemere retailers and businesses – some of whom make 90% of their profits in the month before Christmas. As everywhere these days, local firms have been hit by internet competition and rising business rates and other costs, making life harder and harder.
Town Councillors, whose ability to intervene directly in business is frankly limited, see authorising this expenditure as one way they can create the environment in which you, the customers of Haslemere, will want to visit and want to support local firms at the most important time of year. We really hope you did so, and do so, now that dog days of January are upon us.
ps – We’ve been asked who pays for the running of the lights? Well, the Council does. The supplies are not metered but the Council gets a list from the contractor of all the individual lights and what wattage they are. It’s a long list. That’s multiplied by the length of time they’re switched on and that’s multiplied by an amount (£) per kilowatt/hour and paid to the electricity company.
Electricity for the lights across the whole Town Council area costs about £440 from going up to coming down.