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Newspaper steps in to save Christmas lights

A weekly newspaper has stepped in to ensure its city will be lit up for Christmas by sponsoring its festive lights display.

Exeter’s Express and Echo is providing funding for the lights in the city’s High Street after an announcement by the council in the summer that there would be no main display.

This followed an appeal by the authority which failed to raise enough money from retailers.

But the city will now be lit up after the Echo agreed to fund the lights, with local company SunGift Solar donating their time to put them up.

The lights are now set to be switched on at an event on 22 November, along with those in the Princesshay and Guildhall Shopping centres.

Editor Andy Phelan said: “Christmas just would not be Christmas without the lights in Exeter High Street.

“We are delighted that, working in partnership with the city council and SunGift Solar, the Echo has been able to do its bit to ensure the city will be celebrating the festive season throughout the entire city centre.

“We believe this will help not just the larger retailers but also the small independents by attracting more people to shop in our fantastic city.”

Since the summer it had looked likely that Exeter’s High Street would remain dark after a poor response to a letter from city council leader Pete Edwards, calling for retailers to contribute to the cost.

He said: “I’m thrilled with the decision by the Express and Echo – supported by SunGift Solar – to sponsor Exeter’s Christmas lights this year.

“The Echo is a champion for the local community and this sponsorship deal will make sure we deliver a fantastic city centre Christmas this year.

“Festive lights in the centre of the city will be yet another reason why many people will see Exeter as their shopping location of choice.”

Television and radio presenter Toby Anstis will present the event at Princesshay and Exeter’s celebrity chef Michael Caines will switch on the lights, accompanied by two members of the Military Wives Choir.