Much confusion around Bexhill's Shining Lights event

From: Peter Webb, Glenleigh Park Road, Bexhill

Monday, 3rd December 2018, 8:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 2:55 am

I’ve always appreciated the efforts made by Shining Lights and think they’ve done a brilliant job with the town’s Christmas lights in previous years.

However this year seems to be a little bit different. There seems to have been a lot of confusion both inside Shining Lights, and around the wider community. Specifically:

a) Shining Lights failed to seek the appropriate permissions for the firework display which meant that, at the last minute, the event was delayed by a week (from 4 to 11 November) while the necessary council approval for the event was rushed through, with the valuable assistance of various local councillors.

b) This created considerable confusion in the public consciousness. Because the event eventually took place on the evening of Remembrance Sunday, 11th November, there was a widespread belief that this year’s display was in some way a commemoration of the centenary of the ending of WW1, which I don’t think it was. It was no more than the usual ten-minute firework display raising money for Christmas lights.

c) This misunderstanding was particularly relevant in relation to the compulsory entrance charges . Will the money raised from the public go to support the British Legion, will it be spent on fireworks, or will it be spent on the town’s Christmas lights? The public are the donors and it is right that they should know where their money goes.

d) For this year of all years, on Remembrance Sunday, at Bexhill’s beacon site – why was the beacon not lit to remember and to honour the fallen?

e) Mr Matthews says he’s not to blame for any misunderstandings regarding the registering of the beacon for lighting up on 11th November of this centenary year, 2018. He says registration was made by a former director of Shining Lights who has since left, and he knew nothing about it. Sorry Mr Matthews, not good enough! As MD you should have been well aware of this corporate decision made by your staff on behalf of your organisation. You can’t just claim ignorance.

f) In your columns of 23 November Mr Matthews is reported as saying that Shining Lights “will not be putting up Christmas lights in Bexhill town centre due to lack of donations”. What will the council’s contribution of £13,500, and the public’s donations to date, be used for?

g) As your correspondent Valerie Catt wrote, the last minute decision to have Shining Lights’ firework party at Beacon Hill on Remembrance evening does seem to be in remarkably bad taste. Why did the council agree to this hugely significant date, and the town’s memorial site, being allocated to a purely commercial venture which had nothing to do with celebrating the centenary of the ending of WW1 hostilities?