£100k Christmas lights spend in Bury St Edmunds was ‘worth the money’ say businesses
- Credit: Gregg Brown
As the big day is over for another year, towns in Suffolk which pulled out all the stops to trim up with lavish lights and decorations for the festive season will be counting the costs and working out if it was worth the investment.
In Bury St Edmunds, Christmas shoppers have been treated to spectacular lighting displays in the town’s Arc shopping centre and beyond, while smaller towns such as Sudbury took the task of decorating the streets ‘in house’ this year to save money.
In Bury, the light displays are completely funded by business owners, mostly via the Ourburystedmunds BID group. The organisation’s chief executive Mark Cordell said the lights this year throughout the town as a whole have cost nearly £100,000. This is largely due to the number of new lights that were purchased.
Mr Cordell said: “BID spends about £30,000 each year, which involves putting up and taking down the lights and buying some new replacement ones, which we do each year.
“The Arc management also bought completely new lights this year which bumped up the total spend to around £100,000.
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“We like to make our town look good all year round, whether it’s with flowers, through cleanliness or liaising with the police – it’s all about making people feel at ease and this encourages them to extend their stay.”
He added: “It might sound like a lot of money but we think the investment in the lights is well worthwhile because at Christmas there is a particular expectation for the town to look attractive and it’s such an important trading time for us.
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“We had TV crews in Bury St Edmunds several times in the run up to Christmas because it looked so pretty as a backdrop.”
This year, more of Sudbury’s historic streets and buildings were illuminated after the local council took responsibility for the lights back ‘in house’. In 2014, the council spent £21,261 on the lights but this year’s bill was just under £10,000.
Jacqui Howells, Sudbury town clerk, said: “This year the lights were installed by a team created in house, which has saved the council around £12,000.
“Although we are looking at budgets very carefully, hopefully there will be some spare so we will be able to purchase more lights next year to extend the display.”
She added: “We’ve had so many positive comments about the lights this year. It certainly makes the town look pretty and more inviting which encourages people to come in and hopefully stay a bit longer, whether they’re shopping or having a coffee or meal.”