Council to take responsibility for Battle Christmas lights

Battle Town Council is to take over responsibilty for the town’s Christmas lights in 2017.

Back in January, the Battle Chamber of Commerce announced that it planned to hand over responsibility for the town’s festive decorations after this Christmas.

Volunteers from the Battle and District Chamber of Commerce have been responsible for giving the town its yuletide sparkle for many years.

Some of the current volunteers have been putting the lights up for more than 20 years.

But many are nearing or past retirement age, while others have to juggle demanding, full-time jobs with their lighting responsibilities.

At Tuesday’s Battle Town Council meeting, Cllr Andrew Ratcliffe said: “We have agreed to take on Christmas lights for 2017 onwards but obviously there is a cost towards doing that.

“We do not know what that cost is at the moment, but we have got three companies coming out to see the lights we have got in situ.”

But he warned his fellow councillors: “It’s not going to be cheap.

“We have put a round figure of £10,000 in the budget, but without these quotes, we do not know how much it will be.

“It could be half that, it could be double that.”

Cllr Ratcliffe spoke of the importance of the town’s festive lights, saying: “We need to keep the Christmas lights going and the onus has now come on to the council.”

Cllr Margaret Kiloh asked: “When you say Christmas lights, what does that cover? The lights that go across the street, the Christmas trees, the main Christmas tree?”

Cllr Paul Fisher said: “The tree is always sponsored by the Beech Estate.”

The council agreed that it would not be appropriate for its own groundsmen to carry out the work of installing and maintaining the town’s Christmas lights.

Cllr Fisher said: “It’s a bit dangerous for our own workmen to do that, because they are not employed to climb ladders and fiddle around with electrics.”

It was acknowledged that Battle Town Council’s budget could need a boost to be able to afford the festive lights.

The matter of funding and the next steps will be discussed further in the new year.

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