BUSINESSES across Renfrewshire struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic have been dealt another blow as council chiefs scrap the festive lights switch-on celebrations for a second year.

The decision to pull the plug on the seasonal events in Johnstone, Renfrew and Paisley comes despite the lifting of most coronavirus restrictions in Scotland earlier this month.

Renfrewshire Council said Christmas lights would still be displayed in local towns and have confirmed The Spree arts festival and Paisley Hallowe’en Festival will be going ahead this October.

However, there are fears that the loss of the festive money-spinning event this year will hit town centre traders still reeling from lockdown.

Allan Henderson, chair of the Johnstone Business Consortium, told The Gazette: “All the local businesses will not get the boost we usually get when we have the Christmas lights switch-on event, because we won’t have the extra footfall.

“We’ve had tens of thousands of people at Ibrox, Parkhead and Wembley for the football recently, and it’s not like we get anything like that at Johnstone Square with the lights switch-on.

“However, at least we are still getting the lights and I understand our priority has to be the safety of everybody, so it’s a difficult decision.

“We’ve sacrificed enough in the past 18 months and we don’t want to blow it.”

Despite the return of two popular October festivals in Paisley this year, it is understood the events will be considerably different from their usual format.

Show capacities of The Spree, which is scheduled to run from October 8 and 16, will be reduced from those in previous years to allow for some physical distancing and health protection measures.

Paisley Hallowe’en Festival will also take on a very different format, with a series of installations to pop up across Paisley town centre from October 28 to November 1.

It is understood that there will be no procession or crowd events taking place during the festival.

A council spokesperson said: “It was a difficult decision not to hold our Christmas lights switch-on events this year, but we feel it is the correct one. Our investment in Christmas lights for town centres across Renfrewshire, including Johnstone, will light up the place this festive season.

“We’d encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the lights, spend local and support independent businesses while they do.”