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New Malden Christmas lights switch on could be cancelled
The show may not go on for the New Malden Christmas lights switch on this year.
Organisers of the annual lights switch on have warned they may be forced to cancel the festive parade which sees Santa dashing through the High Street on a sleigh.
Rotarian and organiser Peter Findlater said: "I am worried. We would have to close 11 roads. It is £1,500 a road. It would cost us £21,000 for a 40 minute show in the worst case scenario.
"It is something that we are looking at. It could be cancelled. It is going to have a big impact on us.
"There may be a way round it but at the moment I’m at a loss."
The problems come at the back of changes to the policing of community events where police will no longer supervise closed roads.
Instead organisers will have to pay Kingston Council to close roads and hire outside security.
The New Malden lights switch on attracts a few hundred people every Christmas and includes childrens’ choirs, stalls and a festive market in the Methodist Church as well as a grotto.
Mayor Ken Smith, who is also a New Malden councillor, would miss out on the opportunity to ride in Santa’s sleigh if the event was cancelled.
He said: "I sincerely hope that Father Christmas can get on that sleigh down the High Street. It would be a shame if local events like this were forced to cancel. I hope there is a rethink about how they are managed."
A Kingston Council spokesman said: "It is not true that an event would be charged £21,000. The most that a traffic management order to implement road closures would cost is £1,545, regardless of the number of roads affected.
“Depending on the size and nature of the event, the cost is often less than that. There is no charge for residents’ street parties.
“The council will continue working with the police and event organisers to agree specific responsibilities and to ensure public safety and proper stewarding so that special community occasions take place safely and successfully as they have done in the past.”