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New Christmas Light Plea in Tadcaster


6:46am 29th September 2014

Civic crowdfunding website, Spacehive.com is calling on companies in the region to help cash strapped communities secure the funds needed to bring festive cheer to our high streets – from sparking Christmas lights, to trees and bustling winter markets.

The campaign is backed by retail and property chiefs while data giant Experian has pledged a match fund of £100k to support projects.

Tadcaster, has created a project page to encourage local residents and businesses to contribute to providing new Christmas lights for the town. Experian and other campaign supporters now want creative types across Yorkshire and the Humber to come forward with more ideas this month so that they have time to get funded.

Christmas lights in Tadcaster are being arranged by the Tadcaster and Rural Community Interest Company, a not-for-profit set up earlier this year to tackle local economic, social and environmental issues.

A successful campaign last year in Ripon, north east Yorkshire, saw firms such as Costa Coffee and Econ, an engineering company, help locals raise nearly £10k towards a new LED installation. The money has allowed Ripon City Council to install, remove and store the new Christmas lights for the next four years.

Christmas decorations are a major pull for shoppers and are vital to the economic health of Britain’s local high streets. High streets now not only face the challenge of a major seasonal attraction being withdrawn, but also growing competition from online retailers - between 2012 – 2013 alone, online retail sales grew by 16% according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

Retailers have suffered as a result: footfall was down 6% in week leading up to Christmas in 2012-2013, and down 7.6% on Christmas between 2012/13. That is why a renewed push for funding is being backed by a consortium of business leaders, who want to see not just Santa, but also Britain’s high streets saved.

Data giants Experian were the first to support the campaign, offering a war chest of up to £5,000 per project. The British Council of Shopping Centres has put a further £10,000 up for grabs, while major companies such as Argos, Boots and Tesco are also backing campaign.

More firms are now being called on to help to fund the festivities by pledging funding direct to local projects on the Save Santa campaign page.

Chris Gourlay, founder of Spacehive, said:

“We have a saying which is, ‘You Scrooge, you lose.’ Even if people only chip in a few pounds, they’ll see what a massive difference it makes if a great idea is shared. Christmas is an amazing time to build community and remind people of the value of high streets. Save Santa is something we hope will inspire people to come together and ensure that austerity doesn’t prevent high streets having their names up in lights.”

David Gluck, from the Tadcaster and Rural Community Interest Company, said:

“Unfortunately Tadcaster, like many towns across England, is short of money. However, from 2014 and onwards, we are determined to make the Christmas lights of Tadcaster something to talk about, and make Christmas here an event to remember, a fantastic occasion that all the family will enjoy!”

Alan Weston, city development manager at Ripon City Council said:

“We wanted to add new Christmas Lights to our Market Place to provide a focal point for our festive events and help create a festive atmosphere for the City to be proud of and that the historic city deserves.

“The people and businesses of Ripon got right behind our campaign and we received a fantastic amount of support, which allowed us to not only improve the lights but meant that we also attracted more people to our switch-on event than in recent years. Because of this experience we now want to look at crowd-funding new Christmas Lights to improve other parts of the City."

Jan Barrett, Head of Community involvement at Experian, said:

“We’re delighted to support this innovative Save Santa initiative, to help bring festive cheer to communities right across the country.  Experian research shows that the attraction of Christmas is a massively positive factor in helping high streets thrive over the festive period and we are encouraging town centres and London boroughs to create a project through Spacehive and apply for match-funding.”

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