CHRISTMAS has been cancelled in towns across Renfrewshire, with council chiefs scrapping this year’s festive lights switch-on celebrations.

The decision to pull the plug on the seasonal events in Johnstone, Renfrew and Paisley as a result of the coronavirus crisis is a major blow to businesses already reeling from the impact of lockdown.

Paisley’s annual Bonfire Night fireworks display has also been cancelled.
Renfrewshire Council has said Christmas lights will still be displayed in local towns and it is planning other activities that will boost footfall over the festive period.

However, it added that, with physical distancing measures likely to be in place for some months and taking into account the length of time needed to safely organise major events, cancelling the switch-on celebrations is a “prudent” move.

Allan Henderson, chair of the Johnstone Business Consortium, said the loss of the money-spinning event will hit town centre traders.

He told The Gazette: “It seems quite early to make this decision but I don’t know how long planning these events takes.

“The council are erring on the side of caution and I understand that.

“It’s going to be a long time before business is back to normal.”

Lindsay McKillop, secretary of Renfrew Community Council, has called on people to show their support for traders by heeding the ‘shop local’ message.

She said: “It’s a great shame for the whole community that these are yet more events that Covid-19 has cancelled. However, safety is paramount and the council have obviously done this for a good reason.

“I think this will be a major problem for local businesses, so we should support and use them as much as possible, so we don’t lose them.”

Council leader Iain Nicolson said it is important to put public health first.

He added: “I know this will be disappointing news for everyone who supports and attends our popular winter programme and we are sorry that these events cannot go ahead this year.

“Scottish Government guidance currently prevents mass gatherings from taking place and, since we announced the cancellation of our summer and autumn programme, major events and festivals across the country have continued to be cancelled.

“Even if the restrictions due to coronavirus were relaxed, physical distancing measures are likely to remain in place for some time to ensure we do not experience local outbreaks and a further lockdown.”

Read all the latest from Renfrewshire and beyond


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