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Christmas Lights Committee

Annan Christmas Lights Committee

At the AGM of Annan High Jinks on 23/03/14, it was felt that it would be better to change the name of the group to Annan Christmas Lights Committee - so that people could clearly see its purpose. We started off by doing newspaper articles and creating a Facebook page, where we conducted an initial survey asking for peoples' views. We lost a number of members of the old High Jinks Committee and in March we had only 5 members, in May we had 7 and in October that rose to the current 9 members.


Current Committee Members

Julie Pepper (President/Chairperson), Fiona Robson (Treasurer), Don Barty (Secretary), Walter Hunt, Louisa Currie, Wendy Hamilton, Kerry-Anne Hawkins, Elizabeth Smith and Michelle Myatt.


How did you manage the budget for this year's purchase of lights and the switch-on ceremony?

With great difficulty! A lot of it was guesswork, based on what we MIGHT manage to raise in fundraising and what we MIGHT get in terms of donations from businesses. By the end of April, we knew how much had been allocated by the Area Committee and Annan Common Good Fund as a result of our applications for funding earlier in the year. So, it wasn't until the beginning of May that we were able to make a decision about how much to spend on new lights. This, really, was a bit late - and very early decisions will be made in 2015.


But you must have had an idea from previous budgets?

Not really. Their expenditure and income varied considerably from year to year and, in a number of years, they didn't apply for external funding. Also, their own fundraising was patchy - mainly down to the fact that they were severely hampered by a lack of manpower. Sometimes, it boiled down to the same one or two people doing everything. To cut a long story short, we started off with a balance of £1240 and worked from there, crossing our fingers and praying that everything would fall into place.


How much money did you have to play with?

Successful funding applications to the Council (Lower Annandale Area Committee) and Annan Common Good Fund resulted in awards of £2993 and £1500 respectively - a good start. We received tremendous backing from local business of £2300 and, somehow, we have managed to fundraise £2000 of our own - almost £9000 in total (our initial target was £8000, but we didn't bargain on the generosity of businesses).


What did you spend the money on?

Our first priority was the buying of new lights - and we decided to allocate around £5,800 to this - that covered 6 x new wall-mounted lights in the middle of the High Street, 3 x new pole-mounted lights between the police station and the bridge + 3 timers for these (at £110 each!!), 17 x LED Christmas trees, lights for the Old Parish Church tree, 19 brackets and bridge decorations. Other costs (and some of these are approximate as we await invoices - lottery licence, advertising, collection tins, "thankyou" stickers, postage, stationery, ink - £250. Barriers - £130. Insurance - £265. Road closure - £180. Entertainment (Tamtastic, Santa, Pipe Band) - £220. Annan Academy hire - £155. Sweets to children - £250. Electrical contractor - £700.

So, if my sums are reasonably accurate (and if we don't receive any unexpected "shock bills"), we MAY be heading for a £1000 surplus. If that is the case, it will mean an extra £1000 to invest in more lights next year.


Why do you have to pay a bill to an electrical contractor?

Let me try to explain the system. Annandale and Eskdale had a budget budget this year of £29,000 for the erection, dismantling and storage of Christmas lights and for the cost of electricity. This budget covers all the towns in the area which have Christmas lights - Annan, Lockerbie, Lochmaben, Moffat, Langholm, Gretna, Eastriggs. The Council, then, pays electrical contractors and their own departments this amount for the work and transportation involved. It does not cost us anything. Everything else has to be paid by the community i.e. Annan Christmas Lights Committee. We have to apply for Funding for new lights, but we also have to pay an electrical contractor for the maintenance of the lights. If new bulbs/units blow - we pay. If larger lights need refurbishment or replacement parts (and this happens a lot with some of our older lights) - we pay. If extra wiring is required - we pay....and we have to pay for the hours it takes the contractor to do this.


How old are the "old lights"?

Don't know - but some of them are on their last legs. You will see that some of the "rectangular" wall displays have bits unlit - these sections have either blown or are not repairable. They were bought second-hand years ago. We should still have masses of "festoon lights" and we will review their use (in some form) next year. So, Stage 1 of replacement complete, probably two more stages to go - and then gradual "tweaking".


And next year?

Review of this year already under way. If the figures above are reasonably accurate , we can probably aim for close on £7000 expenditure on new lights in 2015. As with all groups, we could do with a few more Committee members. We usually meet on the third Tuesday of the month in the Bluebell Inn at 7.30pm and our AGM will (probably) be on the third Tuesday of February, when the "real" accounts will be available.


For more information:

l facebook.com/annanhighjinks

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