Confusion over funding for Highgate’s Christmas lights

Organisers of Highgate’s Christmas festival say they are still waiting to hear how much funding they will receive from Haringey Council for this year’s Christmas lights – just one month before the event.

The committee in charge of the second annual festival in Pond Square, made up of Highgate Village traders, said their fundraising efforts have been hampered by the delay in information from Haringey Council.

Lead organiser Jane Wiles, owner of Notsobig children’s boutique, Highgate High Street, said: “I’ve been going round to all the shops and have already raised £5,000, but it would be nice to know how much Haringey is giving us so we know how much we need to raise.

“I don’t think we will only be paying £1,200 towards the lights like last year. I think it will be more like £5,000. But we need to raise £12,000 altogether.”

TV presenter and Highgate resident Alex Zane will be switching on the lights again this year at the second fantasy-themed festival, which began last year to ensure Highgate Village was lit up in style.

On Tuesday, the council confirmed it will be contributing towards the cost of the lights after rumours emerged that Haringey would be pulling funding for lights across the borough. But the council has denied this.

In a leaked email seen by the Ham&High, a council employee said the council is still waiting to clarify the level of support on offer for Highgate’s lights because of a change in contractors this summer. With only a month to go until the festival on November 16, joint organisers Ms Wiles and Charlotte Bourne, of Taylor Gibbs estate agents, Highgate High Street, have become nervous about the lack of information from the council.

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“I sent them emails two weeks ago and have only just had a response confirming their contribution, and we are grateful for their support,” said 50-year-old Ms Wiles, who lives in Hornsey Lane. “But we still need to know how much we need to make up because we want these lights up in November to boost business for the shops. They seem to always do things last-minute.”

The council has said there was never any doubt about its contribution towards Highgate’s Christmas lights display.

Cllr John Bevan, cabinet member for environment, said: “The council puts up festive lighting in all of its town centres – including Highgate – every Christmas and is already planning the details for this year’s lights.

“This year, traders in Highgate have told us that they would again like to organise an alternative and we have been happy to agree to contribute towards this.”