In October 2015 the Chamber of Commerce entered into a 3 year contract with Millennium Quest to rent Christmas Lights for Whitstable & Tankerton. The annual cost was £15k.

When the company came to install the lights for Christmas 2015, it was discovered that there were problems with the electrical infrastructure on a number of the lamp posts, and to rectify this cost an additional £5,160

During the  2016 annual infrastructure testing it was discovered that some of the Anchor bolts and the steel wires that support the across street displays failed the stress tests. The cost to resolve this issue was an additional £594

In 2016 we struggled to raise funds and as a result at the start of 2017 there was a debt owed to the lighting company of £14,251. 60

Early in  2017, the lighting company advised us that unless they received payment of the outstanding sum, together with a contribution towards the 2017 rental charge, they would not fit the lights. The minimum payment required was agreed at a figure of £20k.

Knowing that unless we could raise £20k the lights would not go ahead, made it difficult to fund raise in the usual way. We did not want to collect money and then not be able to have the lights. We therefore concentrated on seeking commercial sponsors. Despite numerous emails and phone calls this proved unsuccessful and on 3rd November   the C of C announced there would be no Christmas Lights in 2017.

The public outcry following this announcement resulted in a crowd funder campaign being set up. Several individuals volunteered to get involved, one of whom set up the crowdfunder page.

Unfortunately, the crowdfunder page, which the Chamber were not responsible for, set out incorrect figures in relation to what the £22k would pay for, and this has caused some confusion. We are very sorry that this occurred. The correct figures were always available on our website.

The crowdfunder ‘all or nothing’ campaign exceeded it’s £22k target reaching £22,500. After deduction of crowdfunder fees, VAT and credit card charges, and taking into account some unfulfilled pledges, we received payment totalling £19,992. 68 into the Chamber bank account. As soon as it was available we made a payment to Millennium Quest of £20,000. This leaves a balance outstanding of £9,251. 60.

The Chamber managed to raise some additional funds not paid through crowdfunder and this totalled £3,580.

We will be meeting with Millenium Quest later this month to take stock of the situation. At that time, we intend to make a further payment of £3,500 which will reduce the debt to £5751. The £80 difference between the money collected and paid, or due to be paid, to Millenium Quest has gone towards Insurance costs, which this year totalled £395. One further cost incurred is the KCC Permit charge for which we still await the Invoice.

The contract is now at an end. There is an option, provided the outstanding sums are cleared to purchase the lights outrights, for £4,200. This may be something to be considered going forward, and we intend to at least obtain figures for possible future terms.

The Chamber has now been managing the lights for the last 5 years and now feel that it is time to hand over to someone else. Whitsparkle have expressed an interest in getting involved and this is an option that can be discussed at the public meeting that will explore the various options for Christmas Lights going forward. This meeting will be held later this month. Date to be announced.