Decision to cut Leighton’s Christmas weekend to one day is reversed

Leighton Buzzard Christmas  Lights 2016
Leighton Buzzard Christmas Lights 2016

Leighton’s popular three-day Christmas Shopping Weekend won’t be cut to just a Sunday event – at least not this year.

At Monday night’s full meeting of Leighton-Linslade Town Council, members voted overwhelming to overturn a previous decision made weeks earlier by the council’s Cultural and Economic Committee.

The committee had voted 4-2 to back 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 opted to challenge the vote and his motion seeking to reverse the decision was backed by 14 councillors, woth four against and two absentions.

This means the event will remain three days for 2017, with the lights switch-on and fireworks on the Friday evening.

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

Of the outcome Cllr Jones, said: It’s not an easy step to take to reverse a decision and not something I would want to do very often.

“It’s the right decision and gives us time to reflect and see how this year goes.

“It’s one of our landmark events and people felt that without proper consultation it ought to go ahead as people expect.

“The original decision seemed a bit precipitous. The vote shows the strength of feeling on the council.”

Gennaro Borrelli, chairman of independent traders’ group LB First, had been hopeful that the full council would ultimately overturn the committee’s decision.

He said: “It’s an important time of year for retailers. We have always promoted it as a local shopping weekend.

“It’s a community event but it’s more important than that. To cut it down to one day you can’t call it a weekend any more.

“It would give the perception that the whole thing is being cut back and I feel that’s the wrong thing for a town of our size. It would be sending out the wrong signals at a time when costs are increasing for businesses.”