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But Council says increase in cost is worth it as switch-on attracts more visitors
Bradford’s cost of Christmas went up by almost £30,000 this year compared to 2011’s festive bill for lights and entertainment.
Although the seasonal electricity bill stayed the same at £4,800, the price of putting on the big switch-on and street theatre events went up massively, newly released figures have just revealed.
The costs came to light after the Telegraph & Argus put in a Freedom of Information request to Bradford Council.
The total bill for 2011 which included the electricity for the lights, the switch-on ceremony in Centenary Square, the ice sculpture trail and street theatre in the city centre came to £56,800.
But this year’s bill topped it at a whopping £85,800 – a breakdown of the figures showed the ice trail itself cost £13,000 and street artists entertaining shoppers over the six Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas came to another £15,000.
A council spokesman said the overall bill would have been even higher if a celebrity had been invited to flick the switch. According to Bradford Council the lights are a massive pull for shoppers and act as a catalyst for people spending more money.
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, the Council’s executive member responsible for culture, said putting on Christmas entertainment was all part of making the city centre a vibrant place.
“We had about 16,000 people in City Park for the 2012 switch-on which was incredible,” she said.
“In the first six months of the park being opened we had some independent research which showed that the 20 events we organised brought in about £1.3m of business to restaurants, hotels and shops, so there’s a definite economic benefit for all the events we do, it’s all part of making the city centre a vibrant place and it works.”
The cost of making, refurbishing and storing the lights are covered separately with internal Council funds as part of a ‘social good’ scheme giving work to some of the district’s most disadvantaged citizens.
The contract is held by Industrial Services Group who employs local people with physical and learning disabilities – additional work keeping the lights working is carried out mostly by the Council’s Street Scene team.