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Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Thursday, 25 November 2010
Berkshire economises on Christmas lights in towns
Katie Melua
Katie Melua switched on the Eton Christmas lights

Stars of the stage and screen are switching on Christmas lights in town centres across Berkshire this month.

Abi Titmuss is booked for Tadley while Katie Melua kicked off events in Eton.

But this year, councils are cutting costs on lavish Christmas events such as reindeer parades, Christmas lights and celebrities.

On Saturday 13 November, Eton started its run up to Christmas with a Christmas procession and carol concert at Eton College Chapel.

The programme of Christmas activities will continue in Windsor, where during December there will be a chance to enjoy breakfast with Santa, take in a reindeer parade and skate on a temporary ice rink.

Pantomime stars

But town centre manager Paul Roach says that the town is not spending any more money on Christmas lights than in previous years.

"It doesn't cost us anything more than it normally does," he said.

"The celebrities who come and switch on the Christmas lights do it free of charge.

"In Windsor it's normally the people who are starring in the pantomime, so it benefits them and it benefits us."

The borough of Windsor and Maidenhead spends £40,000 in total on installation of Christmas lights.

Windsor and Eton town centres spend £6,000 each on lights, in addition to financial help from local traders.

In Windsor local traders spent £3,000 to sponsor the Christmas lights switch on.

The amount spent on Christmas has been frozen for the past four years. This year Eton is hoping to make savings by switching to solar-powered lights and in Windsor cutting down on the number of Christmas lights.

Robbie Williams Tribute Act
A Robbie Williams tribute act will be performing in Slough

However, in neighbouring Slough, the council has been forced to "significantly reduce" its celebrations, spending £3,000.

Instead of a celebrity, Robbie Williams and Michael Buble songs will be covered by singer Lee Pashley, to entertain the 3,000 shoppers expected at the event.

This year the owners of the Observatory and the Queensmere shopping centres pulled out of sponsoring the event, but local paper the Slough Express, has stepped in to fund the activities with £3,000.

A Slough Council spokesman said: "Last year we had a celebrity lined up, but they had to pull out.

"We pulled somebody out of the crowd and it went down really well.

"This year we've got a really, really good tribute act, and then once again pulling someone out of the crowd and giving them a chance to entertain.

"What we aim to do is kick off Christmas shopping in Slough."

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