New twist in lights fiasco

A HISTORIC Suffolk town which drew national ridicule last week when Christmas lights were put up 75 days before the big day has been dealt another blow - some parts of the Yuletide display will now have to be taken down.

A HISTORIC Suffolk town which drew national ridicule last week when Christmas lights were put up 75 days before the big day has been dealt another blow - some parts of the Yuletide display will now have to be taken down.

Health and safety fears mean some of the decorations painstakingly erected over the past few weeks in Bury St Edmunds will have to come down because they are too low and being brushed by the tops of hefty lorries.

But council bosses are confident the displays will be up and running at around the time most of us would expect to see such festive delights.

It is the latest health and safety nightmare to blight Bury.


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Renowned for its floral prowess, and a multi-winner of Britain in Bloom, the town's floral hanging basket displays in 2004 were plunged into doubt over fears that the lampposts were not strong enough and pedestrians may be in danger from falling baskets.

The situation was only resolved with the swift erection of new posts.

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And later that year concern over an electricity cable feeding lights to the St Nicholas Hospice Christmas tree in the Traverse meant the traditional twinkling lights were replaced with a rather less dazzling alternative.

Carol concert-goers resorted to carrying battery operated candles in a bid to add some festive cheer to the proceedings.

Bosses at Bury Town Council last night admitted that a number of lights, which cost a total of £30,000, must now be moved after it was found they had been positioned too low and were in the path of lorries.

Chrissy Harrod, president of the town's chamber of commerce, said: “This is why it is a good idea to get the lights up early in good enough time to sort out any problems.

“Everyone involved is trying very hard to ensure that the Christmas light switch on is an exciting and positive event, so it is important to make sure that everything is right with the lights well before the light up on November 16.”

Town Mayor Rebecca Hopfensperger, who also sits on the council's Christmas Lights Committee, said: “There is a possibility HGVs could damage them and they will have to come down.

“It was difficult to tell how low they hung until they were up. I would rather find out now than later and run the risk of Bury being in darkness (over Christmas).

“We have to make sure the lights are in the right position to get our licence. At the moment only a couple of sets of lights are affected and we expect to replace them or move them when we put the others up.”

Jim Brady, chairman of the Town Centre Management Group, said: “It is important we get this right and we are supporting the council's efforts to comply with the regulations.”

A County Council spokesman, said: “Our only concern is that the lights are safe and the people of Bury can enjoy them over the Christmas period.”

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