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Let's light up the town together

New ways to maintain and improve festivities in Boston are to be explored, including funding the town's Christmas lights from 2016.

Boston Borough Council now wants to hear from businesses, traders and community and voluntary groups who can help make the town a better Christmas destination for shoppers and visitors.

The Christmas lighting display, including enhanced lighting for the town Christmas tree near the Ingram Memorial, is assured for this festive season.

Now the council has made early moves to formulate new plans for future years and wants to see others get involved.

Cllr Paul Skinner, the council's town centre portfolio holder, said: "It is virtually unthinkable for Boston town centre not to be covered by Christmas lights. It is a commercial time of year for most town centre shops and businesses and we want to be sure the town appears welcoming and inviting."

He said provision of Christmas lights was not a statutory duty and said the council was facing difficult decisions about which services it continues to support and maintain.

He said now was the time for the council, businesses and the retail community to think about how the town could best secure festive lighting for 2016 and beyond at a cost each year of between £25,000 and £30,000.

A report before the council's Cabinet yesterday (Wednesday) said the current contract to provide festive lighting for the town, funded largely by the borough council, ends after this year - £147,000 over the past five years.

Including this coming Christmas, businesses in town have made a contribution towards the lights - £20,000 over the five years - through the now defunct Boston BID (Business Improvement District).

Councillors heard that throughout the country, including in Lincolnshire, Christmas lighting is provided increasingly through the public sector, charitable sponsorship and by town and parish councils. In Sleaford, Skegness, Horncastle and Louth Christmas lights are provided by the town councils. Lincoln and Spalding receive contributions from shops and businesses.

Cllr Michael Brookes said Kirton and Swineshead provided their own lights.

Cabinet members agreed that as BTAC (Boston Town Area Committee) mirrors the responsibilities of a parish or town council for Boston it should be approached about helping fund future Christmas lights.

It was agreed that detailed proposals and costing should be worked up for businesses and shops which might be interested in helping provide the lights.

This year Christmas celebrations will include events leading up to 2020 when the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing in America, and Boston's connections with that period in history, will be marked.

The council will be working with Transported, the arts organisation, on "illuminate" events to include candlelit processions coinciding with this year's Christmas lights switch-on, on Thursday, November 26. A Christmas market is planned for Sunday, November 29.

Cllr Aaron Spencer said businesses should be involved in discussions about how best Christmas in Boston could be organised, with a view to making it better.

Cllr Skinner said there was a wealth of talented commercial, volunteer and community groups who could also help, and make use of the community space in the Market Place over the festive period and at other times.