Illuminations scrapped for good

Walsall Illuminations is being scrapped for good, it was revealed today.

Walsall Illuminations

EXCLUSIVE by Ben Lammas

Walsall Illuminations is being scrapped for good, it was revealed today.

The annual tradition at the town's Arboretum was the biggest lights spectacular outside Blackpool, once attracting 250,000 people from across the Midlands. But now Walsall Council is axing the traditional format completely to save cash.

Instead, it is looking at lighting up the bandstand and boathouse and one-off events.

The beginnings of the Illuminations can be traced back to 1875 but the event has been hit by dwindling visitor numbers, losing around £200,000-a-year recently.

Council leisure chief Barry Sanders said today the lights would be sold off and the proceeds used to improve the Arboretum.

"The council's budget is under tremendous pressure and there is no likelihood of the old-style Illuminations making a re-appearance," he said.

"The days have gone when people wanted to go and see a few flashing lights. We have to move on with new technology.

"I think we will have concerts and laser light shows once the restoration work is complete which would appeal to everyone."

The Illuminations were suspended last year after another poor turnout in 2008, but were expected to return in 2012 following a £4.7 million restoration of the Arboretum.

The council last week secured a Lottery grant to build a new visitor centre and restore the bandstand and boathouse.

Councillor Sanders added: "We are in discussions with several parties over the sale of our old Illuminations boards."

Are you sorry to see the illuminations go? Share your memories below.

Comments for: "Illuminations scrapped for good"

Paul

At last, they have listened to us and moved with the times!!

The question is, when are they going to move with the times on other matters such as;

-The lack of bin collections every time a snowflake falls?

-Over-restrictive parking arrangements in the town?

-The inflated salaries of ineffective senior management?

-The very high levels of council tax and business rates?

etc...etc...etc...

webbie

typical walsall coucil was it they who out priced the lights in the first place

nothing left in walsall

as mr tobin said

WALSALL RIP

Nick

Its a shame to see them go - I'm surprised that it was due to low numbers of visitors - I went twice in the last 3 years it was open and it was always plenty busy, but I guess the economics didn't work out. Guess I'll have to take the money I would have spent in Walsall enjoying the illuminations to Blackpool instead.

Fellows Park Phantom

Well, there goes another possibility for an evening out with the family.

Yes, Paul, this is obviously some form of portent for whatever agenda you're propagating.

D'oh!

Sharon

Shame that the time as come for them to disappear. I’m sure it wont be long before Blackpool illuminations are stopped either. People have lost interest in them along with other traditions i.e carnivals, fun fairs……….The new up and coming generation are more interested in electronic fun & gadgets.

Sam

So now there really is nothing left in this god forsaked town. The last to leave has actually turned the lights off.

Chris

Shame the arboretum is so detatched from the rest of the town.

Shame the one unique feature Walsall had has been scrapped instead of fixed. Hopefully they will do concerts but no doubt there will be a noise problem and they'll just bank the cash.

There's nowhere to park anyway.

Mark Smith

Shame to see the final nail in Walsall's coffin. Inept politicians blaming anything except themselves for losses. Nothing changes.

mike

a great shame to see a part or walsall history come to an end.

Ian Shires

The Council did not decide that the illuminations should go, it was one councillor as part of a group of 10 councillors who form the current cabinet.

The views of the other 50 councillors,of whome I am one,have not been sought let alone the views of 250,000 Walsall residents. So much for democracy!

James

Don't think you've got the hang of this yet, have you?

We elect a council, and by doing so we delegate to them the authority to do what they think fit on our behalf.

They don't consult with you because you didn't get enough votes in the last election; your job is to act as a loyal opposition or devil's advocate, to challenge and test those in authority. If you're lucky they'll keep you informed.

Those in power, especially conservatives, will duck and dive and line their own pockets and those of their cronies. You should be chasing them to be more open and accountable, but of course they're not going to consult you or us - they think they've got a mandate so they'll please themselves until you catch them out.

By definition, 1 councillor and his/her cabal of 10 have our authority to take that decision. Therefore, the Council took that decision and you are part of the council, albeit in opposition (loyal opposition, remember),therefore you are part of that decision.

You can't shirk your responsibility - if you really think they've got it wrong you need to work harder, either get a better election result or talk them out of their decision with the power of your argument.

Moriarty the Mundane

I am 54 in February...I went as a kid and so did my younger sister. We have since taken our children and...it WAS a highlight of the year for them too! I did hope to take my grankids one day...but, sadly that hope is now gone! Blackpool? Too far away and full of beggers and lowlife!

Just what is happenning to this once great land?

I hate politics, it gets in the way but, it does make you wonder just what is really going on in those "hallowed towers" of the (local) Government.

Finally, to number 10, Ian Shires...if what you say is true...and I have no reason to doubt you, then do something about it! You were democratically elected to govern "your bi"t of the country and if as you say one councillor as part of a group of ten did this then the maths show it is not democratic but Imperialistic! Possibly empirical?

Name and shame...it's a good game, sadly, not played often enough!

Black Country Forever!

Who has allowed this to happen?

Why are so many who should have a say, saying that they had no influence?

Something is bad in the state of WALSALL! STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN!

Andrew

Tory controlled London spent £313,000 on seven minites of fireworks and attracted 200,000 people.

Tory controlled Walsall have no imagination at all

James

True, they haven't got any imagination, but they haven't got £300,000, either

PAUL MULLERY

Young people have moved on from static displays, circuses etc and are not particularly impressed by a few electric lamps. In addition, the income from the illuminations was offset by the cost of erection, policing and litter clearing.

I used to live in the vicinity of the arboretum and can relate that the residents got really brassed off with the parking in residential streets.

If people want entertainment, they should entertain themselves not expect the council to do it for them. Basically a good move.

The Voice of the People

Yet another disgrace!!.

Oh well people of Walsall, at least the money saved scrapping the Illuminations can go to pay for another Council funded smackhead- asylum seeker-ASBO outreach programme!!!

John

Stop givig yourselfs big pay rise,s and its you the councils who over priced the lights .

Paul

Fellows Park Phantom,

I don't have any 'agenda'. The problem with the lights was that not only have they made significant losses in recent years but, they also failed to bring enough shoppers into the town as well -so couldn't even be considered as an effective promotional tool for the town.

You have to wonder exactly WHO certain council officials consult when they make many of their decisions (hence the points I raised). I suspect that the idea of laser light shows with a good headline acts will do better overall than the proven loss-making illuminations. You have to hand it to the councillor for grasping the nettle, cutting what were growing and substantial losses and trying something fresh and new that has the potential to raise revenue throughout the year AND attract a wide variety of people spending money and enjoying Walsall!!

Mike White

Lets be honest, the lights were not very good. It was outdated. I'd rather have a reduction in the council tax, not that I will get one.

steve Briscoe

Recently i was reading the Blackcountrycore strategy document it stated people were leaving the black country in droves

When i read the Walsall illuminations was going to be scrapped i just can see why people are leaving. in my view you have to give something for people to stay

The black country is loosing its traditions and idenity it is seen by many just another part of Bham now.

Friends of dudley town centre

Woody

In their time the illuminations were a good tourist attraction and a place for people to go couldn't afford to go to Blackpool.

However, times change and their time has reached a natural end.

Grogphil

It is the easy way out, it needed alot of work on the format of the illuminations to get it back into profit but not impossible.

As everyone knows a trouble free family nightout does not attract grants etc we were too well behaved!!!!!!

besty

sorry to say but it's a sign of the times,people just can't be bothered to go and support local projects anymore,zombie britain we'll work die and thats ya lot.

woolibuga

I was born In Walsall and spent my childhood there during the dark days of WW2! .. I remember the removal of every piece of iron railing, the walk to school with my gasmask padding my bum, the nights spent sitting in the hole in the ground in the back garden, the night they destroyed the Walsall Bus Depot and the subsequent appearance of the bright yellow trolley buses that were lent by Bournmouth Council, the monstrous fire caused by incendary bombs at the tyre reclaim plant Hawley's but most of all I remember the Darkness of those days and with the return of sanity the return of Light and the Iluminations at the Arboretum became a true Highlight of our year.

I live in North America now and there is a small town in Michigan called Frankenmuth and every year in November they switch on their Illumninations for the Christmas Season and together with other attractions it draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors and the prosperity to this small town as a result is overwhelmingly evident.

flooperdave

As a Tividale expat when I was a lad early 50's, my sister lived near the Park I would go see the lights and later years I would take my 3 boys - I know Frankenmouth nice place BUT I would bet they have a much better PR going on than Walsall ever had !

Now living in Cleveland OH and wishing they had a decent ligth display.

john

How short sighted of the Council.

I moved away from Walsall some years ago and the people here in East Anglia only know Walsall for two things the football team and the illuminations.

A better approach would have to hold the illuminations once every 3 or 4 years as this would have kept things fresh.

A Council is supposed to be democratic and represent the people of Walsall but once elected the memebers do what THEY want not what the people want.

Finally what will happen to some of the older lights I bet they will go the same way as the train station canopy !.

Martin Bradley

This is a real shame. People came from miles around to see the lights. Young kids love em, and now there is another thing less for youngsters to do. More money that wont be coming to the town. Is there anything left now?

JK

Sad to see the illumitaions go. Will there be a cutback on overpaid council executives, generous expenses for councillors or the £45000 a year they spend on a mayors limo? I doubt it!

James

It was only a matter of time.

It's all very well saying 'the lights shouldn't be scrapped', 'part of our history and heritage' etc, but the harsh fact is that people weren't going.

You only have to read the stories over the past few years - numbers down, costs up. They were staggering on from year to year, getting shoddier and shoddier.

It was exactly the same with the lock museum, no-one went there either but locals didn't want it closed.

If these things are so valuable and important then you should go to them and encourage your mates to go to them, and your mates' mates.

You can't stay away and expect the council to prop these things up financially - the council is only spending our money and they should not be spending it on things no-one visits.

It is typical Walall (and Express & Star) to cuss and complain when the Lights are on and about how much they cost the taxpayer, then to whine and whinge when they are cancelled because they're not making enough money to support themselves.

Spongepete Square One

"Walsall lights scrapped for good"

No, I don't think so!.. They WILL be back

Watch this space as they say

FlooperdaveTividale expat

Oh my, so sad, never mind.