Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Lights may lose council 167,000

Walsall Illuminations (pic: Walsall Council)
Council leaders are discussing the event's future

A council is set to lose tens of thousands of pounds on an annual lights display event in the Black Country.

A total of 167,000 could have been lost on this year's Walsall Illuminations, council officials said.

A Walsall Council spokeswoman said it was too early to say "for definite" if the event, at the town's Arboretum, would go ahead next year.

She added that a decision would be made about the council-run event "within the next month or so".

Council leaders have put the overall fall in visitor numbers down to the economic climate.

Weekly visitor figures to the event at the town's Arboretum rose by 9.6% and the deficit was an improvement on the 2007 figure of 234,000.

However, the overall attendance figure went down because the event was held for five weeks rather than six, the council said.

Poor weather

The total went down from 120,000 to 111,000, but the weekly attendance rate increased from 20,833 last year to 23,400.

Councillor Louise Harrison, Walsall Council cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: "It's clear that the credit crunch and the onset of recession has had a major impact on what we spend money on."

Poor weather during the half-term week was also a factor, she added.

The event, which was worth about 1m to the Walsall economy, could depend in the future on a planned 7m restoration of the council-run Arboretum park.

A bid for 4.8m has been lodged with the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is central to the scheme, the council said.

This year's event finished on 2 November.

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