We had the following email from a Rayleigh resident:
I believe the Christmas lights will soon be going up. Can I make a request? Last year the lights at the top of the High Street were strung between the lamp-posts for some reason and they looked awful. Rayleigh’s lights are always the best in the area and I love how the lights are put in the trees – something that most other towns cannot even contemplate. Please can we have the lights back in the trees. They look classy like that.
Ron has replied:
Thanks for your email
Are you aware that the Christmas lights are funded by the Town Council plus a certain amount of sponsorship from local traders? Until last year we were able to have lights all the way from the Baptist church at one end of the High Street to Holy Trinity at the other and also along Eastwood Road as far as Webster’s Way.
However, last year, at the last moment, a whole host of difficulties were placed in our way by Essex County Highways Authority in the form of lots of new rules and regulations (“Health and safety!!”) which meant it would no longer be possible to attach light festoons to the lighting columns and it looked as if there would be no Christmas lights at all.
The only way to get around this was for the Town Council to purchase removable columns to support the lights and to pay to have sockets for these let into the footpaths. This was obviously very expensive and the budget only allowed the area between Bellingham Lane and the church to be covered, but there were lights in the trees.
This year we have been able to purchase set-piece decorations which we have been allowed to attach to the lighting columns and these will stretch from the Baptist church all along the High Street and Eastwood Road. There will also, as usual, be lights in the trees.
We hope that in future, as more funds become available, we will be able to extend the coverage of the columns and festoon lights to the whole of the town centre once again