Cllr David Foster has said the lights ‘have to go up’ in December next year.

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The mayor of Honiton has reacted to residents’ fury over a lack of Christmas lights in the town - and promised that there will be a display next year.

Councillor David Foster says that he and other colleagues have come under fire over the matter, but stressed a ‘valuable and postitive lesson’ has been learnt.

He said poor takings from the town’s street market - coupled with the tougher economic climate - had left the financial target far out of the town council’s reach.

Cllr Foster told the Herald: “I completely sympathise with the people of Honiton because I know we would like to see a fantastic display of lights in the town.

“A number of factors have impacted our ability to fund the lights, including a nationwide financial struggle in the modern-day high street, and other sizable street markets nearby which compete with ours.”

Mr Foster also claimed the impact of unfavourable weather over the past year had made the funding for the lights ‘tougher each year’.

He said he was saddened by the backlash from the community, and that it was ‘unfair’ that the town council has received such fierce criticism over the lighting issue.

“It is not right that the council have borne the brunt of the blame but I understand why it has happened,” he said.

“As mayor, it is my role to accept the criticism, but looking at the bigger picture it is clear that a valuable and positive lesson has been learnt.”

Mr Foster assured the community something like this will not happen again, and expressed his delight over the ‘positive’ reaction the issue has created.

“Although there are still some people in Honiton angry over this, I have to say that I am very happy about the people who have stepped forward and offered to help for next year’s display,” he said.

“Among those who have offered to help is a local electrician who has offered his services. This will help save a huge chunk of funding money, as it costs roughly £6,000 alone for the erection of the trees and lights above shops.”

Alongside the Bygone Christmas event next year and several other fundraising initiatives planned, Mr Foster is confident that next year’s lights will be put up for the whole community to enjoy.

“I think this has focussed people’s attentions to the fact that this can’t happen without a collective effort,” he said.

“This is a unique town with a great community, so I urge you to get involved and make next year’s display bigger and better than ever.”

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