Traders step in as Haringey axes Christmas lights and flowers
PUBLISHED: 17:43 14 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 14 October 2010
Haringey Council ask Muswell Hill traders group to pay £950 for festive lights
FLOWERS and festive fun have been axed by Haringey Council as the rush to save cash takes over local government.
Traders in Muswell Hill are planning to step in and help after the penny-pinching council decided a £950 bill for Christmas lights and the £4,000 a year spent on hanging baskets and flower troughs are costs too far in the new age of austerity.
A new 50-member strong business group – Heart of Muswell Hill – has decided to step in to ensure the shopping area stays attractive and remains a festive hub, attracting Christmas shoppers.
The council will still install the lights but will not fund them and Broadway understands a similar plan will be presented to Crouch End traders next week.
Co-chairwoman of the Heart of Muswell Hill Emma Whittlestone, of Frocks Away, said: “Obviously the council has to make cuts, but at the same time it’s now when we are struggling that they are not supporting us.
“Just under £1,000 doesn’t sound like a lot of money for Christmas lights. All the shops contributing are independent traders and at the moment the shops are so quiet, it actually is a lot of money for us.
“The council has been supportive in us setting up, but whereas there have been budgets for helping to market areas in the past, that’s not going to happen in Muswell Hill now.
“But we are a community and Muswell Hill is a family-orientated place and though it’s bad that we’re not being supported, if all this helps us come together then that’s fantastic.”
As well as funding the lights, the group is staging its first event – The Muswell Hill Festive Weekend – which will bring carol singers and a Father Christmas.
And Manager of Bones furniture store, Fredrika Debrabant, will be one of the main members taking over the responsibility of keeping Muswell Hill full of blooms come January, after the council announced they would stop funding flowers on the Broadway.
“To me it seems like it would be a very small way to save money but I’m happy to do it because I love gardening,” she said. “The council seem to be penny-pinching in a way which I can’t see would make a big difference to the budget.
“I can’t imagine how grim it would be to be the only place in London without lights.
“I think it’s really important that we are thinking as a community, otherwise the independent shops will all feel alone – if there’s a feeling of camaraderie that comes from us all coming together, then that is what Christmas is all about.”
A council spokesman said Haringey would still install the lights but had asked local businesses to contribute “given the extremely difficult financial situation facing the council”.
On the flowers he added: “This will save in the region of £4,000 and we are asking local businesses if they’d be prepared to look after the plant troughs immediately outside their shops instead.”
The Muswell Hill Festive Weekend will take place on December 4 and 5 – more details will appear in the Broadway in the near future.
If any other local traders wish to join the association they should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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