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Campaigners launch bid to raise £22,000 to light up Whitstable this Christmas after local Chamber of Commerce failed to generate enough money to pay contractor

PUBLISHED: 08:40 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:40 08 November 2017

Christmas lights

Christmas lights

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The Christmas lights company said it will not provide for this winter if fees, plus outstanding debt, are not paid in full by November 15

A crowdfunding campaign to raise £22,000 to light up Whitstable this Christmas has been launched after the local Chamber of Commerce failed to generate enough money to pay its contractor.

Bosses shook hands on a three-year contract for Christmas lights in 2015, worth £15,000 including VAT, however, the company supplying the lights has insisted it will not provide the service for 2017 unless its fees for this winter, on top of outstanding debt of some £5,000, are paid in full by November 15.

The money has previously been raised through contributions from local businesses and collection boxes.

A spokesperson for the Chamber of Commerce said: “Since the contract was signed we have struggled each year to raise the money either by seeking sponsors, or from public donations.

“Many of the big multinational stores and banks in the High Street for example just have no interest in, or mechanism in place to make contributions to this type of community event.

“When we had buckets in numerous shops and pubs throughout the town, although there were a handful of exceptions where the store owners or publicans made a special effort, the majority of the buckets produced literally just a few pounds.

“On the occasion of the first lights switch on event, there were buckets going round to collect money from the thousands of people who attended, but the amount raised was less than £20.”

Chiefs have described the fundraising attempt as “all or nothing”, meaning traditional festivities rest entirely on whether or not the cash target can be reached by next week.

“The end result of all of this is there will be no organised Christmas lights in Whitstable this year,” the spokesperson added.

“The harsh reality is that while everybody appears to want lights, too few people and organisations are prepared to contribute sufficient funds to pay for them.

“We are sorry for the disappointment that this may cause. If all of the businesses in town were to pledge to give £100 each toward the lights, then we may be able to save the day.

“We would not collect any money until we had sufficient pledges to cover the amount required, and at that stage payment would be requested.

“Alternatively, we need someone who would be prepared to loan the money and accept repayment over a number of years.”

So far, almost £7,000 has been raised. Those wishing to donate to the campaign can do so here.

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