Councillors submit challenge to cutting back Leighton’s Christmas Festival to just Sunday

Leighton Buzzard Christmas  Lights 2016

Leighton Buzzard Christmas Lights 2016

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Moves to cut Leighton Buzzard’s Christmas Shopping Weekend to just a Sunday event are due to be challenged on Monday evening.

At a full Leighton-Linslade Town Council meeting at the White House, Councillor Steve Jones is planning to put forward a motion seeking to reverse the decision of the council’s Cultural and Economic Committee on March 27.

The motion submitted in advance of the meeting – and seen by the LBO – is seconded by Cllr Clive Palmer, with four other councillors named as being in support (Cllrs Alan Brandham, Tony Morris, Gordon Perham, and Carole Perham).

It seeks to overturn the committee’s earlier 4-2 vote which backed a council officer’s report which suggested shrinking the three-day festival to just a Sunday event as the town council looks to make best use of its budget and resources.

The original vote would ordinarily be the final decision as the committee has delegated powers and can make rulings on events without the approval of full council. However Councillor Jones has opted to challenge the vote.

If the majority of the 21 councillors support the motion on Monday night then the event would remain three days for 2017, with the lights switch-on and fireworks on the Friday evening.

A full review of the festival would then take place ahead of Christmas 2018 which would seek to “better utilise resources”.

Cllr Jones, who is optimistic the motion will gain majority support, said: “We felt because of the amount of interest in the town and on the council, then to suddenly cut it to one day was not the best way forward.

“At least by changing it we have got the chance to consult and hopefully get a better product at the end of it.”

Ahead of the meeting Gennaro Borrelli, chairman of independent traders’ group LB First, said he hoped full council would ultimately overturn the committee’s decision.

He said: “We have canvassed our members, the general public and market traders who all want it as a three-day event. It’s something that works very well. It should be put to as many councillors as possible to make the final decision.”