Crouch End and Highgate Christmas lights to be funded by traders

Public and traders told to increase their contributions to festivities by cash-strapped Haringey Council

TRADERS and residents in Crouch End and Highgate will be asked to contribute more than ever for their Christmas lights this year as the Scrooge-like council begin to pinch pennies.

The Broadway reported last week how Muswell Hill traders had been told they would have to fork out for Christmas lights and hanging baskets as a result of cuts by Haringey Council.

And this week Crouch End and Highgate community members revealed they are also being asked to shoulder the costs, though they remain sympathetic to the council’s dilemma.

Chris Freeman of the Crouch End Traders’ Group said normally the lights are put in place on a match-funding basis between store owners and the council, but this year he has been told it will change.

“We have yet to meet with council officials, but we will hope to ensure the Christmas lights still happen this year,” he said.

“I’m glad they see the value of the Christmas lights and are still contributing to it – it’s hard to see in the current financial climate that they would pay for them if they are making cuts to services, we’ve all got to be in it together really.”

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In Muswell Hill traders were told that as well as axing funding for flowers on the Broadway from January, the council needed �950 from shop-owners to pay for the lights which would then be installed by Haringey.

In Highgate, estate agent Chris Underhill said he believes the community’s contributions towards the lights that line Highgate High Street could raise from 10 to 50 per cent – the traders will also be paying for the Pond Square lights which fall within the borough of Camden as they do each year.

Mr Underhill, of Prickett and Ellis estate agents, will be looking to residents as well as traders to help fund the lights.

He said: “The council have asked us to increase our contributions towards the Christmas lights – they have not been specific yet, but we believe it’s a fairly substantial uplift in the contributions we normally make.

“I don’t blame them under the circumstances, but the difficulty is at at time like this it makes it even more difficult to raise the funds.

“Fortunately we have a fighting fund, so if we raise more money we should be fine for this year just about.”

Anyone wishing to contribute the lights can do so by contacting Mr Underhill at his High Street office.

A Haringey council spokesman said the authority always asks local businesses to contribute towards the cost of Christmas lights and are doing so again this year, given the extremely difficult financial situation currently facing the council.