The city council has announced it is once again taking on organisation of this year’s Derby Christmas Light Switch On and revealed initial plans for the event, which will take place on 18 November 2017.
Last year the event was among those axed by the council in budget saving measures, but was picked up and successfully run by a grassroots movement of community organisations and businesses from the city. The council’s announcement has come as a shock to some of them who feel their efforts in 2016 to make sure Derby had a Christmas Lights Switch On event were overlooked by the council at the time and with this new announcement, despite community groups being invited to apply to take part in the 2017 event.
Speaking to the Derby Telegraph a spokesperson for Derby LIVE, the events arm of the city council, said, “With the festive season approaching and preparations under way for the return of the Christmas lights switch-on, we would like to invite local acts, community groups, dance groups and performers to apply to take part in the parade.
“The Christmas parade and Derby City Council-organised switch-on event did not take place last year, so it’s exciting that the much-loved event is making a return to the city as part of the delivery of one of the council’s 50 pledges of the Labour administration to ensure Derby is a safe, strong and ambitious city.”
Community groups are being invited to apply now to take part but Matt McGuinness of Furthest From The Sea, a key organiser in Derby having an event last year, has said the council has missed an opportunity to build on what was achieved in 2016.
Furthest From The Sea, an arts organisation in the city, stepped in with just two weeks notice last year to make sure the city had an event after the council announced they would not be running a lights switch on. It was one of the events they cut in a bid to meet budget savings, among others were the Darley Park Concert which will also return this year albeit with an entry fee rather than remaining free.
Posting on Facebook McGuinness said, “I’ve no idea about the reasoning behind this, I mean the real motive, it doesn’t make sense politically or more importantly at a community level. Last year’s event brought together 52 organisations and businesses in a city wide celebration at no cost to the city council.
“In times when money is tight and there is an ever increasing need (and constant call out) for others to get involved, this is just a wasted opportunity. The case has been put forward on numerous occasions for a repeat of 2016 without a reply of any substance. What this, and the reaction to last year’s event says to the community who made it happen is ignorant at best, and they all deserve better than that. Much better.”
McGuinness says last year’s successful event has never been acknowledged by the council despite the community effort and the crowd turn-out. Responses to his post were also terse with some feeling the council were cashing-in having axed the event previously.
Full details of the event are due to be released in autumn but will include events in the Market Place and a festive parade from The Spot. Community groups interested in taking part in this year’s Derby Christmas Light Switch On on 18 November should contact Sally Greatorex at email@example.com in Derby LIVE’s outdoor events team or by calling 01332 640848.
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Image of 2016 community-led Derby Christmas lights switch on by G Whitmore.