REVEALED: Cost of Christmas lights and trees in Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham and Havant in 2019

EVERY year thousands of families around the Portsmouth area welcome in the festive season by attending Christmas light switch-ons and marvelling at the beautiful displays on offer.

Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 5:28 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 3:38 pm
Cosham's Christmas Light switch-on Picture: Malcolm Wells (271119-0316)

And in recent years they have become unmissable events, attracting celebrity faces and local politicians to herald in the holidays.

Perhaps now more than ever they are also a much-needed way to support shops and local businesses, which are undeniably feeling the pinch as retail continues to face an uncertain future.

For Portsmouth City Council's deputy leader, Councillor Steve Pitt, the lights meant more than just Christmas spirit.

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Father Christmas in Gosport Picture: Ian Hargreaves (301119-2)

He said: 'People enjoy feeling festive and the shops really appreciate the increase in footfall. It makes such a difference to small businesses and small communities.

'We know from talking to traders in Fawcett Road where we had Christmas lights for the first time last year that it has given them a massive boost and it generally makes the area feel more alive.

'Communities need events and places to come together and events like this are so important to the city because of that.'

But how much money are local councils spending on lighting up the streets this Christmas?

Sisters Nadine Smith, left, and Natasha Calvert in Gosport at the switch-on Picture: Ian Hargreaves (301119-9)

Unsurprisingly Portsmouth splashes out the most cash. This year it paid contractor Sparkx £56,656 to put up - and later take down - the lights and for six Christmas trees that can be found in Commercial Road, Palmerston Road, Paulsgrove, Cosham, Drayton and the Hot Walls.

The council has already paid a total of £76,190 for the lights, which it owns, and they are expected to last a few years. Last year £1,187 was spent on the electricity costs, which are expected to be similar this year.

Last year Fareham Borough Council invested in a new festive lighting scheme, at a cost of £49,665, or £9,933. This has been used again this year and it is thought the authority will also spend £12,800 to put the lights up and bring them down.

Two Christmas trees can be found in Fareham - one in front of Westbury Manor Museum and one at the performance podium in the town centre. These set the council back £4,290.

Fareham's lights switch-on event Picture: Keith Woodland (241119-368)

In contrast Havant Borough Council spent just £1,250 on five trees this year. It forked out £6,180 on putting up and taking down the lights. This year only £450 was needed for replacement bulbs, as almost £2,000 was spent on new lights back in 2017.

Recently Gosport Borough Council came under fire for providing a 'pitiful' Christmas tree in the town centre that resembled 'half a bush' after it was damaged in transit.

The tree was quickly replaced at the end of November with a 30ft specimen.

In total the council has provided four Christmas trees at a cost of £1,500. It has also spent a further £23,000 on lights, which are meant to last three years, and £15,000 to put up and take down the lights.

Lights in Commercial Road, Portsmouth Picture: Sarah Standing (211119-2671)

Havant

Number of Christmas trees: Five

Cost of Christmas trees: £1,250

Cost of putting up and taking down lights: £6,180

Cost of lights: £450 - this year for replacement bulbs, £1,983.80 - spent in 2017

Cost of electricity: No cost recorded as lights are battery operated

Lantern makers in Fareham with the mayor and Father Christmas Picture: Keith Woodland (241119-365)

Portsmouth

Number of Christmas trees: Six

Cost of trees and putting up lights: £56,656 (all paid for in one contract)

Cost of lights (paid in previous years): £76,190

Cost of electricity last year: £1,187

Fareham

Number of Christmas trees: Two

Cost of Christmas trees: £4,290

Cost of putting up and taking down lights: Approximately £12,800

Cost of lights: £49,665 (spent last year to last around five years)

Cost of electricity: Not known

Gosport

Number of Christmas trees: Four

Cost of Christmas trees: £1,500

Cost of putting up and taking down lights: £15,000

Cost of lights: £23,000 (expected to last three years)

Cost of electricity: Not known as lights are new

Father Christmas at the lights switch-on Picture: Keith Woodland (241119-356)