Havant town centre ‘is a poor relation’ – anger from writer

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AN AWARD-winning writer has called for more thought to be put into festive celebrations in Havant town centre this year.

Lucy Flannery was disappointed with the Christmas lights switch-on last month.

Ms Flannery, who founded Havant Literary Festival, said: ‘Waterlooville had carol singing and children’s entertainment; Hayling Island had the Mayor of Havant; Emsworth had carol singing, children’s entertainment, fireworks and a visit from Father Christmas.

‘And Havant town centre’s Christmas lights switch-on had – nothing.

‘A handful of people, including Bench Theatre members in santa hats, publicising their panto at The Spring, turned up for the Christmas lights ceremony – only to find the lights already on and no celebration of any kind taking place.’

She said the lights switch-on was advertised on the council’s website for 4.45pm.

She added: ‘Once again, it seems the town centre is the poor relation, missing out on both fun and funding.

‘Caffe Nero and Costa could have been asked to serve mulled wine and mince pies. St Faith’s could have been invited to supply carol singers. Local shops and The Spring could have been encouraged to join in with the festivities. But it seems none of these things happened.

‘Chichester’s lights were turned on by Pongo and Missus – two of the leads from Chichester Youth Theatre’s production of 101 Dalmations. Havant’s own, much-longer established youth theatre, Dynamo, are performing the Snow Queen this January.

‘Were they invited to come along in costume and switch on the illuminations? Apparently not.

‘Now is the time for Havant Borough Council to start planning this year’s Christmas lights ceremony to ensure that 2015 is not another damp squib.’

Dan Grindey, service manager for economic development, said: ‘Leigh Park, Waterlooville, Emsworth and Mengham all had very successful switch on events this Christmas. Havant Borough Council supports the organisation of these events that are led by local businesses and the community.

‘Christmas lights were displayed in the Meridian centre and other parts of Havant town.’

He said the council would work with any business or organisation willing to organise a Christmas event.