This year, Gladstone St did not get any Christmas lights. Many people have asked me why this is. Why have “the Corporation not done the lights?” The truth is, the Borough Council never erected lights on the streets at Christmas. It was always left to the traders in each street. Really, it was left to one individual on each street to make sure the lights from last year still worked, replace those that didn’t, invest in some new ones, arrange an electrician to erect them, arrange power supplies along the street and finally chase all the other traders for money to pay for them.
As this is a thankless job, a few committed people got landed with the job each year. As a company who always paid our share (even though we are not retailers), it disappointed me to see that each year, a number of retailers would not pay. They were happy to free-load, while the majority of the street paid for them.
It tended to be the larger chain stores that didn’t pay. In 2007 payment was not received from Carphone Warehouse, Boots, Sasha, Carl Scarpa, Birthdays and Meteor. These stores have a substantial presence on the street, benefitting from the contributions of smaller local enterprises while not paying their share.
This is the reason there are no lights on Gladstone St this year. O’Connell St traders have pulled together to provide lighting, as have other streets. It is sad that the town’s premier trading street will be bereft of seasonal cheer.