A6 Church Yard trees

Statement: Christmas Lights Switch On

Atherstone Town Council understand that many residents and visitors to Atherstone were disappointed in the Town Council’s decision to suspend the community grant scheme in July 2023 and the subsequent impact this has had on community voluntary organisations and events such as Dicken’s Night.


Additional pressure has been placed upon the Town Council’s finances, due to significant levels of expenditure in 2023/24 which had not been accounted for in the budget set by the previous Council in January 2023. Following a review of the Annual Governance and Accountability Return 2022/23, the External Auditor has stated that the reserves held by the Town Council are too low and advised that there is a need to ensure the Council can continue to function for a reasonable period should other funding be delayed or cease.


The Town Council made the difficult decision to suspend the Grants Scheme due to the potential financial difficulties it may have in meeting its statutory obligations. The Council were without a Town Clerk until mid-September and the depleted staffing resources throughout the summer followed by an induction period has meant any further analysis and review of the Council’s finances has not yet been possible. It is with regret that the Town Council are not able to offer 50% grant funding towards the Dicken’s Night fireworks as has happened in previous years.


The Town Council organise and fund the supply and installation of the Christmas Lights throughout the Town and the Christmas Tree outside St Mary’s Church for the Community each year. At the September Town Council meeting comments expressed, indicated uncertainty for the Town Mayor’s usual proceedings in relation to the Christmas Light Switch-On.


Prior to the Town Council meeting on 18th October, we wrote to the Dicken’s Committee to ask whether they wished for the Town Council Christmas Light Switch on to form part of the Dicken’s night celebrations as in prior years. The Dicken’s Committee advised they had formally voted that they did not wish to be involved with the Christmas Lights Switch on this year unless the Town Council reversed their decision on the funding of the fireworks.


Following communication of the above decision by the Dicken’s Committee on 17th October, the Council decided to host a small gathering in the Market Square to switch on the Town Council’s Christmas Lights and commemorate World AIDS Day on 1st December 2023.


It has been evident that the above decisions made by both the Town Council and the Dickens Event Committee has caused significant upset to the Community for which we wholeheartedly apologise. The Town Council and the Dicken’s Event Committee are now in communication with each other. Councillors are preparing a motion to rescind the previous decision and reinstate the light switch on event to Dicken’s Night on 25th November 2023. The Chairman intends to call an Extraordinary Meeting of the Town Council on Wednesday 1st November.