THE lack of Christmas lights in Waterlooville town centre has angered shoppers and traders.
The big switch-on was scheduled to take place on Saturday, along with the opening of a Christmas grotto and carol singing.
But there were no twinkling lights in London Road this weekend as organisers said they faced a ‘nightmare’ in getting the event together.
Ray Bastin, a councillor for Waterlooville, had to cancel after not having enough money to put up lights and pay for a grotto.
A grotto was planned for one of the empty shops, but Cllr Bastin has struggled to strike a deal with property landlords.
Cllr Bastin, who organised the lights at the last minute last year after the business association said it could not afford them, was also quoted £7,500 to buy new lights and install them.
Cllr Bastin, chairman of Waterlooville events team, only had £4,000 – obtained from developers’ donations, local businesses, a £1,500 grant from Hampshire County Council, and £200 each from Portsmouth and Havant councils.
However, Cllr Bastin said he still plans to get some lights up before Christmas.
Shoppers spoke of their disappointment on Saturday.
Jane Efthimiou, from Hambledon Road, Denmead, said: ‘It’s disgusting. They should make some sort of effort. It’s dreary – it’s all gone flat in Waterlooville.’
Tony Elsmore, 73, of Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville, said: ‘It’s all about money nowadays – that’s the trouble.
‘If we want lights, they will put up our rates. It’s the children that miss out.’
Trader John Matthews, one of the owners of Finishing Touch, said: ‘I have traded here for 25 years and it’s going down – no lights, no trees, no entertainment.’
Cllr Bastin said: ‘It’s been a bit of a nightmare this year.
‘The shops are all struggling. To try to get any money out them, it’s not going to happen.’
Cllr Bastin said he plans to put up the old lights from last year, but a switch-on event is unlikely.
He said: ‘It’s going to be very near Christmas – that’s all I can say. It’s going to be a rushed job. I don’t want to let everybody else down or let myself down.’