Residents in Hockley have been expressing their OUTRAGE after the town’s annual Christmas lights switch-on event was cancelled over ‘operational and volunteer level concerns.’ However, Southend News Network can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that the popular gathering has been scrapped due to the town’s entire 2016 budget being spent on the installation and maintenance of TEMPORARY TRAFFIC LIGHTS.
We spoke to a source within the Rochford Municipal Commerce Administration, the government-backed body responsible for ‘extra-political’ events in the town that sits between Rochford and Rayleigh.
He said: ‘We have just updated our financial forecasts for 2016, and it was incredibly grim reading. We always try and allocate and ring fence a certain amount of funds to ensure that the annual Christmas lights switch-on can take place.’
‘However, this year has been a very testing one to say the least. Our borough has to try and maintain its position as the UK’s leading supporter of the national temporary traffic light industry, and trying to balance this with organising a Christmas event has been too much of a strain.’
‘Additionally, there are also 316 pending planning applications to convert Rochford borough agricultural sites into new-build housing estates, and this will require further investment in temporary traffic light infrastructure – these new roundabouts and slip lanes won’t build themselves after all.’
We asked our source what provision there would be for a scaled-down Christmas event in its place.
He said: ‘With so many extra temporary traffic lights going up in Rochford, Hawkwell, Hockley, Ashingdon and Canewdon, residents and motorists will be treated to a constant display of red, yellow and green all year round. If that isn’t Christmas come early, I don’t know what is.’
‘Besides, we have been liaising with our Southend Borough Council colleagues about cancelling local feelgood factor-building events and then just saying that things have ‘never been better’ – they lead the world in this field and we have much to learn from them.’
‘There may even be £20 left in the town’s budget to send someone to lock the gate at Hockley Woods car park at night and stop local petrol sniffers from turning it into a scene from The Fast and The Furious on a regular basis. At the very least, we could get temporary traffic lights put in, they hate those.’