Diss lights future secured

The future of the troubled Christmas lights display at Diss has finally been secured after the town council agreed that local residents should foot the bill.

The future of the Christmas lights display at Diss has finally been secured after the town council agreed that local people should foot the bill.

In recent years the town has been the butt of jokes because of the lacklustre display, despite sterling attempts to raise funds and bring back the wow factor.

On one occasion, TV presenters Des O'Connor and Melanie Sykes had a whip- round among their studio audience after it emerged there was only £5 in the kitty to pay for repairs after the lights were vandalised.

And Scole-based rock legend Rick Wakeman was in for a surprise when he performed one switch-on ceremony. Only about four strings of bulbs had been put up because a specialist company had failed to do the work on time - and these fused within seconds.

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The town council spearheaded a revival, and last year's twinkling icicle lighting was generally welcomed as a great improvement.

But Graham Minshull, who chairs the lights committee, said they now only had three members and it was impossible for them to raise the £10,000 needed annually, especially as the credit crunch meant many traders could no longer afford to make a donation. He added: “We went to the town council's policy and resources committee and they agreed the lights would now be funded by the parish, as from next year. It will be about £2 per household per year.

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“If the town council hadn't agreed to put it on the precept it was going to mean no Christ-mas lights, which would have been really miserable. Any money we raise can now be put towards extending the display, and I am really pleased.”

Diss will have the same decorations this Christmas as in 2007, with white icicle lights outlining rooftops of buildings in the town centre, along with a Christmas tree.

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