IT IS ‘40 per cent’ the fault of the Chichester BID that the city’s Christmas lights were not a success this year.
This was according to chairman of the City Centre Partnership Andrew Finnamore, who held a public meeting for businesses involved in the Chichester BID campaign.
The festive £45,000 lights were not set up in a number of areas of the city last year, but the BID is tied to a five-year contract with Gala Lights, with the same sum needing to be paid each year.
Mr Finnamore confirmed there had been ‘difficulty getting consent’ from a number of businesses to have brackets screwed onto the side of their building, in order for the lights to be attached, and he conceded consent should have been sought before the contract was signed.
“I’m going to apologise for that,” he said. “We did not get the whole of the city done.”
Speaking of the work done by BID and Gala Lights, he said: “The trouble is it’s probably 60 per cent their fault, 40 per cent ours.”
He particularly highlighted areas of Southgate, where he said it had been difficult to get consent.
However, he added: “We will certainly have them done next year.”
He said he was determined the lights would be up around the city next year, adding last year was ‘disappointing’ and it was ‘essential’ to get it right this year.
“We didn’t get it right, I know you’re unhappy about it,” he told the assembled businesses.
Keith Nelson, owner of St Martin’s Tearooms, Chichester, said: “£45,000 is an awful lot of money for lights and you have committed yourself for four years now.”
Mr Finnamore nevertheless said he felt the city was in a better situation than it had been in previous years, when there had been no lights at all.
“Christmas lights are important,” he said, adding that this December would be different. “I think we will have a better response. It’s not just Christmas lights that will make the city busier.”
There was disappointment in the city in November, when the big switch-on of the lights had to be cancelled because of bad weather.
Speaking at the time, Kim Long, city centre manager, said: “The businesses are realistic that an awful lot of work has gone into this and at the end of the day there was nothing we could do about the weather, it was unfortunately against us.”
Around 750 businesses from the area paid one per cent of their business rates into the BID initiative.
Mr Finnamore said this year BID would spend between £60,000 and £70,000 on the lights and other attractions, as there would be extra spending on top of what was in the contract with Gala Lights.
Hopes were high last Christmas the seasonal attractions would draw in the crowds and boost footfall over the festive period.
After the meeting, Mr Finnamore said the whole process of the BID was a learning curve.
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