Lights fund in need of business boost

Pictures:Bill Johnson. Blackpool Illuminations.
Pictures:Bill Johnson. Blackpool Illuminations.
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Calls for more Blackpool businesses to contribute cash to the Illuminations fund have been stepped up after it emerged donations are currently lower than last year.

Figures released by the town hall today show £19,046 has been donated so far.

That is slightly less than last year’s total of £19,767, although the council is hopeful the figure will rise before the end of the financial year.

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism, said: “Business contributions to the Illuminations remain stable.

“So far this year we have received over £19,000 and we expect this to rise.

“However, we are looking at different ways we can incentivise businesses to help keep the Blackpool Illuminations shining by offering sponsorship and marketing opportunities.

“We really want those sponsors to be local businesses and our Illuminations ambassador Laurence Llewelyn Bowen has already met with business leaders to stress the need for their support and to promote the concept.

“We already have local sponsors like Beaverbrooks who sponsor the “Bling” section in front of The Tower which shows the concept can work effectively.

“We hope other businesses will see the opportunity here and follow suit.”

Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said it was imperative more businesses 

She said: “I know it was a tough season last year but even small donations are better than nothing.

“The council cannot protect the Illuminations when it is having to cut back on frontline services.

“People are being very short-sighted if they do not contribute to the Illuminations fund.”

The business contributions total is dwarfed by donations from the public, which added up to around £120,000 this year – the same level as in 2012.

The bulk of the funding for the Lights comes from annual expenditure by the council of £2m.

But with the town hall budget being slashed by £36m over the next two years, the council has stated it is looking at new ways of funding the annual extravaganza.

Mrs Smith said sponsorship deals were one of the ways forward.

She said: “Eviivo, which is a hotel booking agency which has many clients in Blackpool, has agreed to sponsorship of £20,000 for a section of the Illuminations next year.”