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Illuminations scrapped for good

Walsall | News | Published:

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

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.

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"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."

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