Ripon's nervous wait on lights for Christmas switch-on

Ripon's Christmas Lights
Ripon's Christmas Lights

More money has been allocated to improving Ripon’s Christmas lighting than ever before following a new funding agreement with Harrogate Borough Council (HBC).

Up to £16,400 will be spent on repairing, replacing and improving the lights over the next three years, with £6,500 of this coming from the city council.

However, HBC has warned it will be difficult for local groups to take full advantage of the new funding this year due to the short timescales, meaning 2015 will be a ‘transitional year’.

The full implementation therefore will be in 2016/17 and, as a result, Ripon’s City Development Manager Alan Weston stressed the difficulty of purchasing new lights this year.

Mr Weston also warned that, due to the late confirmation of arrangements, the new lights may not be installed and tested in time for the Christmas lights switch-on this Saturday.

He said: “The Christmas tree will be turned on on Saturday but I need to have a conversation to find out when they will be arriving because it’s going to be quite tight.

“We were only able to place the order a short while ago so we don’t know exactly when we will be able to have them up but it will definitely be before Christmas.

“It’s great that we have more funding for the future but for now it’s about making the best of the opportunity we have for this year.”

Between 2012 and 2014, HBC spent an average of £3,855 on putting up, taking down and storage of the Christmas lights for the city with Ripon also required to make a contribution to the costs.

However, the city has also had the responsibility for upgrading the lights, with the City Development manager relying on crowd-funding and an earmarked reserves budget to achieve this.

HBC have now decided to increase the annual base budget for the next three years to ‘encourage people to visit and shop in the district’s main settlements’.

Despite the possible delay to the arrival of the lights, Mr Weston said Saturday’s switch on was going to be a ‘fantastic, festive day’ for the city.

The lights will be switched on by special guest Derek Brown, who is walking from Leeds to Ripon in aid of Dementia Forward and Scuba Diving for All.

He will be met by children from Greystones School dressed as elves before the Mayor of Ripon, Coun Pauline McHardy, and Father Christmas count down to the switch-on at 6pm.

The build-up will begin with a Cathedral Christmas gift and food fair at 10am before entertainment in the Market Place starting from 4pm.