Christmas cripples Honiton organisation

Cost of one tree and a carol service tops �1,260. Fund-raising is required to keep tradition going.

CHRISTMAS is crippling a business organisation in Honiton.

The town’s chamber of commerce and industry forked out �1,260 last year – just to provide one tree outside St Paul’s Church and host a carol service and indoor market to coincide with the switch-on.

Now members are to be asked for their views on how to meet the cost of the exercise.

The topic will be discussed during a forthcoming breakfast meeting.

“There will be a stink in the town if we don’t do it, but people don’t realise how much it costs,” the chamber’s secretary, Margaret Lewis, told a meeting last week.

The chamber, which has already made plans for this year’s switch-on events, is considering ways of fund-raising towards the cost.

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Collecting tins at outlets in the town is a possibility, along with calls for sponsorship, the chamber’s executive board has agreed.

Trees above shops are provided free of charge – even to non-chamber members – as part of a collaboration between the chamber and Honiton Town Council.

The council picks up the tab for the display.

Colin Wright, the chamber’s chairman, said: “Many of the businesses who receive free trees are not even chamber members, but if they don’t get them there will be gaps in the display.”

The cost of providing one tree outside the parish church is eating up almost all of the chamber’s income from subscriptions. A donation of �50 is given to the church to cover the cost of lighting the tree.

l The breakfast meeting will be held at The Boston Tea Party from 8am to 9am on Wednesday, March 9.

Invitations have been sent to members, who can bring a guest. The charge is �6 per head.

Regular breakfast meetings are planned, to give members a chance to raise business issues with the chamber’s executive committee.