Lancashire

Chance to switch on Blackpool illuminations

Individuals could be allowed to pay for the chance to switch on Blackpool's illuminations.

The public and businesses could bid to take part in a daily event which would raise cash to improve the famous lights.

It was one of the ideas to come out of a meeting between the resort's business leaders and the council.

The talks were prompted by complaints about the state of this year's illuminations.

Representatives from around 50 businesses, mostly hotels and guesthouses, met council officials.

Clare Smith, president of Stay Blackpool, said: "This wasn't about blame, the illuminations department do a good job with what they have got , it is just what they have got is going down."

But she added: "The lights are still fabulous"

Ms Smith said some new ideas to raise extra funds included increased sponsorship and letting people pay to switch on the Illuminations each day.

Other ideas included a levy on businesses.

Alan Cavill, Blackpool's assistant director of enterprise and business development, called it "pretty constructive."

He said the illuminations had been hampered by delays caused by the late arrival of some displays and gales which hampered the installation.

Earlier in the year some displays were damaged in high winds and others damaged in a fire at a depot.

Disappointment fears

Some businesses fear visitors will be disappointed.

Ms Smith said: "There are areas that are brand new and absolutely fabulous but there are a bit patchy in spots and a little bit dated."

The illuminations have been a feature of the resort since 1879 when they were described as "Artificial Sunshine".

This year, their size and duration have been scaled back to save money.

They are being switched off half-an-hour earlier - at 22:30 from Monday to Thursday - to try to save the council about £2,000.

On Fridays and Saturdays they will stay lit until midnight and Sundays until 23:00.

The council is also using more LEDs (light emitting diodes) to save energy. More than 30% of the lights now use LEDs.

The illuminations will remain lit until 6 November.

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