Two firms step in to save Exeter's Christmas lights

Exeter's Christmas lights have been saved thanks to the intervention of two local firms, city centre bosses say.

The city council, which had to cut £2.4m from its budget, said it could not afford the £50,000 cost of the lights and switch-on ceremony.

South West Communications has provided some money, which will be matched by the council, and Sungift Solar has offered to put the lights up.

City centre manager John Harvey said it was just a "one-year solution".

Some retailers had voiced concerns that customers would go elsewhere if areas did not have decorations.

Tony Rowe, of South West Communications, said not having lights was "unthinkable".

He said: "You can't have Exeter without Christmas lights. It's like saying to little Johnnie that you can have Christmas, but not have a Christmas tree.

"What kind of message is that sending out to the rest of the West Country?"

Mr Harvey said: "I'm really grateful to people who are Exeter-based that have done something truly remarkable for their city."

However, he added: "We need look at options to ensure that we never return to this position again where negotiations continue so close to the Christmas period."

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