The North Laine Traders Association (NLTA) has stepped in to rescue the North Laine from a bleak Christmas. All members of the association will be given a lights display for their shop window.
The City Centre Business Forum has traditionally organised the collection of funds for the erection of Christmas lights but this year the traders have failed to raise enough money to fund the proposed displays.
Soozie Campbell, city centre manager said, “ Most of our existing lighting stock is past its sell by date so this year we needed to purchase new purpose made displays. The Council offered a significant contribution towards the project but we needed to raise a total of £60k just to put lights in the Lanes and North Laine. Despite starting the fund raising process in May and receiving generous donations from organisations such as Ellis & Partners we have only raised £17k across the whole city and just over £12k from the Lanes and North Laine together.
“Other people have come forward with proposals to raise money for this year, and we really appreciate their efforts and concern, but it is not straightforward. The quotes that we have obtained from our supplier are based on purchasing the lights over three years. Even if we had raised enough money for year one, we would be taking a huge risk if we went ahead with the proposal as not all the businesses have pledged for the full three years. The collection for years two and three could be as low as £5k.”
Peter Stocker, chair of the NLTA says, “We fully support the decision not to go ahead with the new lighting displays. It is very sad though, particularly for those who pledge money every year. If every trader gave just £50 - £100 each year we could have the most spectacular display. And they would all benefit.” The fact is that only 78 businesses (about 10%) in the city centre agreed to contribute to the fund. In some streets the figure is as low as 2%. Of those who pledged 40% agreed to commit for only one year.
It is now up to the business associations in each of the relevant areas to come together and work out their own solutions.
Sue Addis from Donatello is an example to all businesses. She puts a large amount of time and money into creating a magical Christmas atmosphere in Brighton Place and Market Street (with her own Christmas lights), the Father Christmas Grotto and the snow machine. Sue is keen to talk to other traders in the Lanes who are of like mind and can see that putting money into Christmas is a good investment.
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Brighton & Hove Business Forum
North Laine Traders Association