CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Christmas lights would have been great – but the support wasn’t there

01 December, 2017

Cartoon: John Sadler 

• IN reply to last week’s letter (Kept in the dark, November 23), the council cannot afford Christmas lights and has not put them up in Kentish Town Road for three years, so Kentish Town Road Action listened to residents’ and shopkeepers’ dissatisfaction and mounted a “Kentish Town Road Christmas Lights Appeal” in the early summer.

We went to a great deal of trouble to start a donation site, to get leaflets printed, to deliver them to every shop and business in the high street, to speak to all the shopkeepers and business owners (we covered the high street three times), to email head offices of chains, to email local residents groups, and to email 360 local residents.

We planned to have a grand lighting-up ceremony on December 2 this year, and we had already approached local celebrities.

This all took a good deal of volunteers’ time but we did it because we knew a cheerful high street would benefit shops, businesses and local people.

The order for lights had to be in by September and we needed to collect £9K before that. By August it was clear that we had collected nowhere near this sum.

In the end we had just over £1K and that was handed back to the donors. A handful of shops and businesses were very generous, especially Franchi, Chestertons, Parkheath, the London Bead Company, and Earth (which had agreed to store the lights).

But we were terribly disappointed with the response from most of the other shops, especially as Christmas lighting would have improved their winter sales.

None of the betting shops, banks or pubs contributed and, most surprisingly, neither did any of the coffee shop chains or big supermarket chains. A small number of local residents gave very generously. We had several great promises from shops and businesses, none of which materialised.

So I would say to people who complain – nothing will come of moaning. If you want Christmas lights in Kentish Town Road next year, you need to start organising now, and persuade all the shops to pay up. £9K is not a huge amount to find from 118 shops and businesses, and from local residents.

I think Kentish Town Road Action has done its bit!

CAROLINE HILL
Chair, Kentish Town Road Action,
NW5

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