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Christmas lights row hits York's Stonegate
ONE of York’s most famous shopping streets looks set to be left without Christmas lights this year after a funding row between traders.
Adam Sinclair, owner of Mulberry Hall and chairman of Stonegate Traders, said some businesses in the street had failed to contribute to the cost, despite agreeing to, and he said he could no longer keep footing the bill.
In a letter sent to fellow traders in Stonegate, Mr Sinclair wrote: “Last year, the position worsened. Until now, Mulberry Hall has had to underwrite and meet the deficit, which has now become unsustainable.
“This is a great shame because our lights have been lauded nationally and because Stonegate is one of the country’s leading and historic Christmas shopping streets.”
Mr Sinclair said the annual cost of maintenance, hanging, storage and repairs for the lights ran into thousands of pounds.
The Press understands businesses in Stonegate are asked to contribute £200, with larger “double frontage” stores asked to contribute £400.
Gillian Cruddas, chief executive of Visit York, said: “We’re disappointed to hear that there is some uncertainty over the Christmas lights for one of York’s most beautiful, historic streets.
“It is vitally important, if York is to keep ahead of the competition that we continue to make the city inviting and special at Christmas time. We hope that a solution can be found.”
Last year, Stonegate was named as one of the most sought-after streets outside London for shop space, and in 2010 it earned the title of second best street in the UK for fashion shopping in the Google Street View Awards.
Sue Tindall, manager of gift shop Peter Rabbit and Friends, said: “We are hugely disappointed it’s not going ahead. We would like it to continue because it’s a huge part of St Nicholas Fayre.”
Richard Pool, a director at Barbara Cattle jewellers and silversmith, said: “I hope this puts some pressure on other traders to contribute.”
Terry Brett, owner of Pyramid Gallery, said people come to York to see the lights, but said he believed it was time to switch to LED illuminations to save money. He also called on City of York Council to contribute, saying “we all pay enough rates”.
Paul Barrett, the council’s city centre manager, said York’s Retailers’ Forum, which included the authority, agreed in 2008 that the council would contribute to decorations for seven jointly selected streets, since extended to 20. But he said: “Certain trade or retail associations chose to organise and pay for their own decorations, and that included the Stonegate traders.
“While the council’s decorations commitments are already under way for 2012 – including securing some quality contributions from Blackpool Council – we will offer any advice or support we can to Stonegate as the street’s importance to the city’s retail offer is valued.”