Councillor Kevin Bonavia responded to my enquiry about whether Blackheath’s traditional festoons will be lit up this year (they won’t):
The Guide is correct in saying that Skanska will be putting up white lights on lamp posts for this year’s Christmas season. This is meant as a temporary alternative to the traditional suspended lights across the Village, because there are a number of maintenance concerns relating to the existing lights, which frustratingly are unlikely to be resolved in good time for this year’s season.
To give you some background, unlike the Christmas lights in other parts of Lewisham Borough, the existing lights in Blackheath are not operated by the Council, but were acquired some years ago by a consortium of local businesses and had been paid for by local businesses, public donations and financial assistance from Lewisham Council.
Throughout the past year, we have been working to assist the operator of the existing lights to try to ensure that all of the existing lights could be switched on this year (including those across the roads). Unfortunately it looks as if the lights might be beyond economic repair.
Until recently, we were faced with the real risk that there would be no lights at all, but on examining the terms of Lewisham Council’s new long-term agreement with Skanska (who as you may know are currently replacing all street lamps across the Borough), it became clear that Skanska would be responsible for putting up and maintaining any temporary lighting as provided by the Council. In the short term, the Council’s own lighting budget has allowed for the lamp-post lights for this year.
As for the long term, we hope to make a funding proposal to the next Blackheath Assembly on 14 January (along with proposals for other community projects) so that the future of Blackheath’s Christmas lights can be put on a permanently viable footing.
As for this year, I hope the weather is kind for the switch-on: 4.30 pm on Saturday 7th December. Whilst on Christmas related events, Age Exchange are doing an open day on Thursday 5th December(10 am – 4 pm) which I understand involves switching on some Christmas lights as well, and there’s the traditional Christmas Eve nativity procession from St Mary’s Church to All Saints Church with carols on the heath, kicking off at 4 pm.