Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Isle of Man Christmas lights rethink amid safety fears

Douglas Christmas lights Image copyright DOUGLAS COUNCIL/ANDREW BARTON
Image caption The annual switch-on has grown in popularity

The future of the annual Christmas lights switch-on in Douglas is in doubt amid concerns over public safety due to overcrowding, a councillor has said.

The Manx government has highlighted concerns about a rise in crowd size.

The 2018 event was moved from Ridgeway Street to John Street to make room for more people, but finding a new permanent site has proved difficult.

Councillor Deborah Pitts said the 2019 switch-on may be "a little bit different", but did not elaborate.

However, Ms Pitts, who is vice-chairman of Douglas Borough Council's regeneration and community committee, said the authority would "never go against" the government's advice.

Image copyright DOUGLAS COUNCIL/ANDREW BARTON
Image caption Douglas Council officers are looking for an alternative location for the event

She said: "Ultimately the event is getting bigger and I think in such a small area they do have to be concerned about how these people are going to get out, should there be an accident or a fire."

Council leader David Christian said Douglas was running out of viable sites for the switch-on.

It has been held in several areas of the town centre previously, but the event appears to be outgrowing the available space.

The Manx government's event safety advisory group, which includes representatives from the police and fire service, offers advice on holding public events.

A spokesman said: "The event has also grown substantially over the past four years resulting in a number of safety concerns around the suitability of its current location."

Ms Pitts said there would be "something" held in 2019, but added: "It may be a little bit different. It may not be exactly what we think it should be.

"We want the people of the island to have something to look forward to, and to show off our town at its best."

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