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Christmas lights switch-ons cancelled due to huge energy bills

Councils are being forced to scrap big Christmas lights switch-on celebrations

Daniel Reast
Saturday 03 September 2022 18:38 BST
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Councils cite ‘financial challenges’ as cause for cancelling switch-on ceremonies
Councils cite ‘financial challenges’ as cause for cancelling switch-on ceremonies (PA Wire)

Town centres across the country are set to shine less bright this Christmas as councils face higher energy bills during the cost-of-living crisis.

Annual celebrations to switch on high street illuminations are organised by local councils and often feature entertainment, family activities and markets.

But with energy bills rocketing, councils are being forced to justify the cost in the face of severe economic pressure.

Joss Bigmore, leader of Guildford Borough Council, has said the town’s switch-on event would be cancelled as the area faces “significant financial challenges”.

He added the council “cannot afford or justify value for money for such an additional significant cost.”

Meanwhile, Budleigh Salterton, in Devonshire, will also have its light switch-on cancelled because the council “could not take on the cost of the lights in the economic climate”.

The cost of Christmas lights will soar this year (PA Wire)

Ely in Cambridgeshire is following suit, with the council saying it could not justify spending its typical cost of £9,000 on the event.

It comes after the UK’s energy regulator Ofgem set the new price cap at £3,549 from the start of next month, marking a sharp 80 per cent rise in the cost of energy.

There are fears that the market for gas in winter will lead to “significantly worse” prices through next year.

The power crisis has turned grimmer in Europe in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s move to curtail gas exports to Europe.

This week, chef Tom Kerridge revealed the energy bill at his pub has increased by 600 per cent, jumping from £60,000 to £420,000.

“There’s no way that businesses are going to be able to absorb four, five, six hundred per cent price increases,” Mr Kerridge told the Telegraph.

Some pub owners have already warned that they may be forced to close over the Christmas period as staying open would make them “lose money”.

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