CHRISTMAS spirit has run dry at Basildon Council this year as authorities have controversially chosen not to host a big lights switch on event in Basildon Town Centre, and the fireworks have been eliminated for health and safety purposes.

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It would appear the whole of Basildon has shrivelled up and has been doing so for numerous years as dozens of giants shops lay vacant with £9 million being wasted in business rates as a consequence, and this is an early sign of a descending spiral of a trading area.

If nothing is done about this flag that’s being raised, there could be a knock-on effect and the number of vacant shops will grow, but bringing the cost of rents down and making parking more affordable and more accessible could enable traders to remain and stay.

And so it appears that all that cash Basildon tried to preserve back in the day by flogging off the car parks in Basildon Town Centre to tap a few quid off the Council Tax doesn’t seem such a great idea now! Of course, you can’t bulldoze the town centre if the shops are being used, so perhaps the plan is to price them out and then on with the demolition.

And with no shops to go to, everyone will have to go to other areas to shop, such as Burnt Mills and Mayflower Retail Park along with others, the council seem set to get us to use their costly white elephant one way or the other, and following the dreadful fiasco last year with the Christmas lights it’s feared that this year will be even worse.

It seems extraordinary that a town of Basildon’s stature and distinction that nothing seems to be in the diary so far to launch Christmas in the town square, but then this wall of silence has been the trend over the preceding years.

Maybe nothing has been planned at all, and that’s certainly something that many proposed visitants could assume.

Christmas is quickly approaching and most Essex towns are doing something to launch the celebratory period but there’s nothing anywhere about in Basildon Town Square, and this is about as bad as last year when nothing happened until the last minute and then it was a miserable flop.

Compare this decreasing volume of Christmas launch activity by the council in current years with Matt Cardle’s debut in the town square in 2013, which was one of the best events ever held there, but the council met with a torrent of criticism last year for the Christmas lights display, with residents complaining that there was no stage or fireworks display.

There’s no enthusiasm anymore because there are very little or no celebrations in Basildon, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas anymore, and whatever legitimate grounds Basildon Council might have for all of this, Basildon residents warrant some kind of explanation.

There will be no fireworks this year due to health and safety regulations, and also no stage or special switch-on ceremony, and it seems that Basildon has used up all their cash in their piggy bank on the new market, and what about the Christmas tree which has been banned from the Town Square for so many years because of health and safety reasons until a local retail management company paid for it a few years ago?

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Health and safety, they’re simply pretexts because Basildon Council doesn’t want to fork out for a tree, and if they’re skint they should simply say so and stop trying to fool the locals that there are other reasons for their scarcity of support, especially in the declining number of shops in the Town Square as Basildon becomes an ugliness of a Borough.

Christmas in Basildon should be an amazing time with celebrations, markets, songs and laughter, and not full of health and safety regulations…

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