Shoppers say town is lacking festive sparkle
THE Christmas lights in the town centre have received a mixed reaction from shoppers, with many suggesting not enough has been done to get shoppers in the festive spirit.
Pop sensation Jahmene Douglas switched on the lights last month, alongside a huge firework display which attracted more than 10,000 people. But despite the huge launch event, many trees and lamp posts have been left bare and efforts to sprinkle some Christmas joy around the town centre have been criticised.
InSwindon are responsible for the display in the town centre and have accepted that the lights are not to the standard they would have liked, largely due to a limited budget and problems with attaching them to privately owned property.
Many shoppers have said more needs to be done to bring Swindon in line with other town and city centres nearby, including Bath, Salisbury, Oxford and even Calne.
Sam Skeates, 25, of Greenbridge, said: “There needs to be more lights across the whole town centre and not just in certain parts.
“Some of it is quite good but there are spaces, like Canal Walk, which have nothing like the Green Wall.
“If you go to a lot of other towns they have done a lot more and it makes a big difference.”
Other shoppers said they liked what was up but still felt the town was lacking something special.
Derek Bettis, 48, of Kingshill, said: “I think it looks really nice but it is lacking somewhat and feels as though we are behind everywhere else. It is very important to have good Christmas lights as it sets an atmosphere and can attract people to the town.”
He said: “I think the town centre looks very good this year and a good job has been done.
“When combined with the Christmas market there is a very good feeling in the town.”
InSwindon are financed by the businesses which operate in the town centre, who each pay a small amount extra on their business rates.
Rebecca Rowland, the BID manager, said: “I fully understand the festive lights are not as prominent throughout the town centre as much as we would ideally like. This is just one of the areas that is funded by the retailers of the town and an area I would like to look at improving for next year.
“We are already looking at improving the layout and number of festive lights for 2014, and we have already started looking in to overcoming some of the previous problems like restrictions on putting-up any lights on the lamp columns, on privately- owned buildings and looking at getting sponsorship opportunities to help with the budget constraints.”
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