Christmas comes to Waterlooville after all

CAROLS The Classique School of Dance choir take part in the lights switch on.  Pictures: Ian Hargreaves  114346-4)
CAROLS The Classique School of Dance choir take part in the lights switch on. Pictures: Ian Hargreaves 114346-4)
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THEY are a little later than usual but they are up nevertheless.

Waterlooville town centre was bathed in a festive glow as the lights were switched on after a rocky start.

THEY'RE ON The Waterlooville shopping precinct Christmas lights (114346-7)

THEY'RE ON The Waterlooville shopping precinct Christmas lights (114346-7)

Initially plans for the lights were cancelled because of lack of money from the Business Association that usually pays for them.

Coupled with the added disruption of major roadworks at the top of the precinct it looked like there would be no Christmas sparkle in Waterlooville this year.

But Councillor Ray Bastin, who represents Waterloo ward on Havant Borough Council, took on the job of bringing Christmas lights to the town centre – much to the delight of the shoppers gathered to watch the big switch-on by Havant Mayor Ken Smith.

Dressed as Father Christmas, Cllr Bastin received a round of applause when he addressed the crowds.

He said: ‘I promised everybody lights this year and when I make a promise I keep it.

‘I had three weeks to do it and although I couldn’t get as many as I’d have liked there are some and I hope it will add a little bit of festivity to Waterlooville.

‘I can promise you all that if I am able to organise it all next year I have something very, very special up my sleeve.’

Rhian Jones and her three-year-old daughter Liberty were in the crowd for the switch-on.

She said: ‘I’m from South Wales and I’m here for the weekend visiting my sister who filled me on what’s been going on with the problem with the lights.

‘I do think it’s great that they got them up after all and they look really lovely.’

Youngsters from the Classique School of Dance in Waterlooville entertained the crowds with beautifully sung hymns and Christmas carols.

Retirement home developer McCarthy & Stone provided around £1,200 to pay for the lights, and cash also came from Havant Borough Council.

The property firm, which is building its new development Victory Court in London Road, agreed to help Cllr Bastin fund the lights’ installation and necessary safety checks.

Last year it cost £3,000 to put up the lights and get them safety checked.

Half of the cost was covered by the council, which normally matches the amount raised by businesses.

But this year the business association did not have enough cash to pay for the installation.