Keith’s Column: ‘Ho Ho Ho’

Friday, 27th February 2015

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Keith’s Column: ‘Ho Ho Ho’
Keith’s Column: ‘Ho Ho Ho’

This week I noticed a few stirrings from the group who have volunteered to raise money for Moseley Christmas Lights. Last year they did a great job. The Festive Season will soon be upon us with residents, businesses and visitors all wishing to enjoy a jolly good day in the Village Centre. Indeed Moseley needs and deserves to be “lit up like a Christmas tree” so I wish them all the best.

Despite several attempts from former Christmas Lights stalwarts like David Isgrove and former councillor Ernie Hendricks, we as a community have struggled over the last few years to raise funds and put together the £10,000 or so needed for even a modest display. Three years ago I contributed £2000 of my own money in trying to get a particular approach off the ground. I must confess it failed. Some people chose to complain about the smallest details instead of getting into the spirit of Christmas.

I have no doubt the small group of volunteers for this year’s effort will do well. They deserve all our support.

Yet saying yes when asked to contribute to the Christmas Lights rather sticks in my throat. Of course I want the Christmas Lights but I run a business that pays over £60,000 in business rates across two properties – that’s over £1000 every week. It’s hard to avoid thinking shouldn’t the City Council be doing more for our money? Shouldn’t the council be paying for our Christmas Lights instead of charging a fortune to connect the electricity and supply a man for the big switch on?

Putting this issue to one side, we missed a trick earlier this year. I made a case to the Councillors and others that we should encourage increased use of the Village Centre for commercial and community projects. All applications would need to be carefully screened but selected markets, concerts, film screenings, mini festivals and other events could make a great contribution to the cultural life of Moseley.

Each time this valuable community asset is used, a rent would be charged and Moseley (not the City Council) would benefit. What wonderful events we could have too … not just markets but our own outdoor free film festival; or Toronto’s Buskerfest  (see www.torontobuskerfest.com ). Who knows what ideas we can develop to boost the day and night time economy in Moseley.

Based on a flat rent of say £100 per day and 50 events per year, we would have £5000 available to help fund Christmas Lights or any other community project. Perhaps some events would be rent free and others pay more of a premium rent.

It seems such a pity we need to resort to asking a small group of volunteers to go round the Village raising money when only a few months ago, we could have taken the first steps towards bridging this funding gap.