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Christmas switch-on in Port Talbot is turn-off

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 14, 2012

Santa and his parade makes their way from Port Talbot railway station to the Civic Square to turn on the 2012 Christmas lights in Port Talbot

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FESTIVITIES in Port Talbot have caused some residents and traders to feel less than jolly.

For the first time the town's Christmas parade and lights switch-on was held on the same day — last Saturday.

In the past the parade and lights switch-on have been held separately on a Friday and a Saturday.

But the change has angered and confused residents and trade in the town has been affected.

Aberafan Shopping Centre manager Steve Redmore said he had been "inundated" with complaints and had been directing people to the council.

"Our footfall was down 32 per cent compared to last year," he said. "The tenants have been complaining about it.

"It wasn't very well advertised and it was a poor turnout considering. It was a lot quieter than we had expected." He added some people did not know about the day and time change.

"People were coming in after the lights had gone on looking for it," he said. "They would have normally been on at 6pm.

"This is the first year that they decided it would only be on a Saturday. It was only a month ago we knew the date had been changed. We had to make sure we had the grotto up in time."

Those disappointed with this year's festive event spoke out at an Aberavon Pact meeting.

They said it was held on the wrong weekend, at the wrong time, and have been left disappointed with the lights.

One resident said: "Where have all the lights gone which we have had the other years?"

Another said she thought it was "disrespectful" that it was held so close to Remembrance Sunday.

Ward councillor Anthony Taylor said he had not been happy with some of the lights.

"People on Forge Road and Riverside will feel like second- class citizens because there are none there," he said. "I have spoken to the chief executive about it."

Russell Ward, Head of Partnerships and Community Development, said the council has not received any complaints.

He added: "The Port Talbot parade has been held on the second weekend in November for the past four years.

"The date and time of the combined events was widely advertised via local newspapers and radio stations and the special events team distributed posters to local schools and placed a banner outside Port Talbot Civic Centre. Combining the Santa parade and switching on the lights in Port Talbot proved very successful and well attended this year and the larger event gave families the opportunity to come together and start the festive season in style."

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