Sunday, 17 January 2010

Would the last person to leave Walsall.....

I read this weekend that Walsall's Illuminations are to end. No. I didn't either, and that would seem to be part of the reason that the very last illuminations were held in 2008, and from 2012 they may be replaced by "concerts and laser shows". Because presumably nowhere else has concerts and laser shows.

A little research shows that the Walsall Illuminations date back to 1951 when the Arboretum was lit by candles in glass jars, and attendance peaked in 1989 when 370,000 people turned up to see them. In 2008, just 111,000 turned up. Only three other places in Britain officially hold "Illuminations", those at Mousehole and Matlock Bath eclipsed by the gargantuan and globally famous Blackpool Illuminations, so it would seem that the £200,000 net cost of the Illuminations was just too much for the Council to bear. I do hope some form of impact assessment was conducted to ensure that the area is not losing a considerably greater sum in lost revenue from visitors.

I can't help think that the rarity of Illuminations - and the fact that Walsall is a lot closer to much more of the British population than Blackpool - could have been leveraged to create something even more spectacular. However, I also know better than to ever criticise any local council because any organisation that close to the political classes is inevitably able to wheel out reports, spin doctors and slick pressers that are totally patronising yet serve only to reinforce the sheer mediocrity of what Britain has become recently.

So, great decision in Walsall! That's £200,000 saved. Switch off the lights on the way out.

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