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Free Christmas fun in Haverhill to take on a different look this year

The Family Christmas Night in Haverhill looks set to be moved from its traditional day of Friday and instead be held on the Saturday, combining it with the other free festive activities, including the fireworks display.

The option was discussed at the inaugural meeting on Monday of a newly-formed Haverhill Community Events Working Party.

Made up of town councillors and town council staff, the working party will oversee the organisation of community events and their budgets on behalf of the town council’s leisure and community committee, to which it will make recommendations.

Haverhill's Family Christmas Night last year. Picture: Mecha Morton
Haverhill's Family Christmas Night last year. Picture: Mecha Morton

The future of the Christmas events on the first weekend of December formed just part of an overall discussion around the whole schedule of free community events proposed for 2023 which, subject to confirmation of the town council’s annual budget, are tabled to cost £90,300. Last year, almost £99,000 was spent on the free events.

The events debated included the Hallowe’en Trail (budgeted to cost £19,000), Haverhill in the Park (£35,000), a single Christmas event (£10,000) and the fireworks display (£8,000), which last year was moved to Saturday at 5.30pm instead of taking place at 8pm the day before.

Cllr Aaron Luccarini suggested it would be better to have all the Christmas events on the Saturday, including the lights switch-on, instead of over two days as previously.

Haverhill town and district councillor, Aaron Luccarini. (62034800)
Haverhill town and district councillor, Aaron Luccarini. (62034800)

Doing so will reduce the costs to the town council as it looks to save money on its budget.

Cllr Luccarini said: “It probably should be on one day then because I don’t think there is any point spending a lot of money on the lights switch-on, given that the shops are all shut, so I’m not sure what benefit it actually brings to the town centre.

“I suppose the restaurants we have got in the town maybe, so yes, just focus on the Christmas night.”

The charities and local organisations that usually run stalls on the Friday Christmas night will be invited instead do the same on the Saturday, when other activities and entertainment is provided in the town centre.

Fireworks form an integral part of the free Christmas fun laid on in Haverhill. Mark Bullimore Photography 2019
Fireworks form an integral part of the free Christmas fun laid on in Haverhill. Mark Bullimore Photography 2019

The possibility of moving the fireworks to another date was then put up for debate, to which Cllr Luccarini suggested that moving it to November 5, or near that date, could lead to it clashing with other such events in the area.

He added: “We could end up putting on an event that is not terribly well supported, whereas if we put it on in December no one else is doing anything like that, we are the only ones, so it’s an attraction, it’s a draw.”

Margaret Marks said: “It does put us on the map. It is well known.We are renowned for the fireworks. The fact that is it away from everybody else’s, I think that is an absolute selling point for us.”

Cllrs Burns and Tony Brown both said they were in favour of moving the fireworks to November 5.

Town clerk Colin Poole, who explained that up until recently he was a licensed pyrotechnist, said: “Yes, we could move it.

“As has been mentioned we would then be in competition with other displays. Some of those displays are raising money for charity so if we diverted people away from those, potentially they would generate less money for charity.

He added: “One of the reasons we get such a good display in December is that because the pyrotechnists wouldn’t be doing anything else, they wouldn’t have any shows, but you wave £8,000 under the nose of a pyrotechnics company around November 5 and you won’t get anybody because they are all going to be delivering £20,000 and £30,000 displays.

“They are not going to be able to provide an £8,000 display.

“I think if we are going to do one at all we should leave it where it is.”

Cllr Poole also explained that while cancelling the firework display would save £8,000 in the budget that would only equate to reducing the Council Tax precept by one third of a percent.

Cllr Burns said: “We will go with it this year then, subject to the budget, plan for that and worry about it later; we’ll have a review after the election or after the event maybe.”