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by Tom Martin (September 2021)

THERE will be no festive lights switch-on event in Southport this year after a decision was made to scrap the 2021 event.

Organisers will instead put on a month long programme of events over the festive season which they believe will give more benefit to the businesses that fund it.

The festive lights switch-on, which usually attracts thousands of people to the town centre, has been organised for the past few years by the Southport BID (Business Improvement District) group.

Southport BID chief executive Rachel Fitzgerald told the Champion that the pandemic has left them with “very limited resources” and they need to use funds in “the most effective way.”

The group, which represents more than 700 businesses in the town centre hope to reveal more about the month long festive programme in the coming weeks.

Ms Fitzgerald said: “The BID has very limited resources, especially in the post Covid era as we attempt to help businesses and Southport town centre recover.

“The BID has to ensure that the investment of our local business community is used in the most effective way, delivering the best results for our businesses and the town.

“To encourage ongoing engagement with the town, we are focusing our resources on a month-long Christmas programme which will attract local residents and visitors to come to Southport on multiple occasions and also to stay for longer.

“This will facilitate more effective opportunities for customers to engage with our businesses than a one-off event can ever do.

“The BID is providing Christmas lighting around the town, in addition to the new all year round lighting we have recently installed.”

The switch-on event was cancelled last year due to Covid, so the last event to take place was in 2019 when pop star Peter Andre headlined.

The event cost a reported £45,000 and Peter Andre earned £11,000 for his 20 minute performance.

The BID claimed at the time that around 8,000 people turned up for the event.

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