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Council 'learns lessons' in light of chaotic Christmas event

By Jamie Brassington | Sandwell | News | Published: | Last Updated:

Council bosses have vowed safety measures are in place to stop overcrowding at future Christmas events.

It comes after crowd trouble marred the Blackheath lights switch-on where parents and children were allegedly crushed.

Thousands attended the event on November 16, which was scaled back after Sandwell Council cut the Christmas budget this year.

Around 6,000 people packed into a space on Blackheath High Street, leaving guests fearing for their safety.

Now the local authority says lessons have been learned after it was left facing criticism over the switch-on's organisation.

A Sandwell Council spokesman said: “The Christmas lights switch on event in Blackheath was clearly a very popular event that was attended by lots of people.

“Organisers tell us that, thankfully, there were no reports on the night from security, police or first aiders of any incidents.

“From comments we have read, the main issue seems to have been the sheer number of people who came to enjoy the festivities.

“We want to give assurances that we and the organisers have learned lessons from the way the event was planned and organised.

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“We will be reviewing Christmas lights switch on events that are planned for both this year and next year.

"We are putting measures in place to ensure future events run smoothly and can be enjoyed by everyone who attends them.”

Following the disarray at the Blackheath switch-on, Sandwell Council worked closer with organisers of the Cradley Heath Christmas Cracker event on Saturday.

The same organising body, Walk Works CIC, was contracted to organise both Christmas events.

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The council spokesman said "appropriate safety measures" were put in place for the weekend event, adding: "We want these events to be enjoyed by everyone who attends them."

Sandwell Council also confirmed budget cuts to Christmas spending have not been reversed since the Blackheath switch-on.

The local authority has also cut spending on Christmas trees across the borough. The budget was reduced from £16,000 to £10,000 this year after a £6,000 overspend, council bosses said.

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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