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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 19:08 GMT
Council now says it is Christmas
A council branded "miserable" for dropping the word Christmas from its festive parade has made a U-turn following residents' outcry.

Havant Borough Council had renamed its parade, where children in fancy dress entered the town centre for the lights switch-on ceremony, Festival of Lights.

It came amid Havant's shopping centre Meridian closing Santa's grotto due to it becoming "a potential fire hazard".

But the council has now added Christmas to the banners.

Christmas is about getting the people and all the children out - none of this local politics
Eddie Cook, from the Lions Club of Havant

One resident said during the parade: "I cannot believe it will offend anybody, you actually can't stop the Christian people celebrating their festivals.

"We would not expect anyone to stop the festivals for us - its Christmas."

For a decade, The Lions Club of Havant has been running the grotto to raise money for local charities at the centre.

The club has now moved the grotto to an Asda supermarket in Bedhampton.

Eddie Cook, from the Club, told BBC News: "It came out that it was a fire risk - we immediately bought four fire extinguishers.

'Potential fire hazard'

"Christmas is about getting the people and all the children out -none of this local politics.

"The word Christmas should be everywhere and I think the council has done us proud to have this (the banner) put right."

A Meridian Shopping Centre spokeswoman explained the Lions Club was offered an alternative place on the first floor of the centre.

She said:"Last year, we warned the Lions Club about a fire officer raising concerns about the lack of sprinklers on the ground floor.

"There was a potential fire hazard. Obviously we have to consider the safety of our customers."

A spokeswoman for Havant Borough Council said: "We did not actually change our minds, we changed the (parade) banners.

"Its gone down very, very well. We are not the most miserable town in the country, in fact we are the exact opposite."

Controversial lights go up again
05 Dec 05 |  Berkshire

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