Brixham traders declare 'Santa war' on Paignton
BRIXHAM has vowed to go on the Santa warpath in a row between port traders and residents and neighbouring Paignton over official Christmas celebrations.
Brixham claims Paignton has reneged on a deal to make sure main yuletide events in the two towns don't clash on the same day.
But a switch of dates from the Paignton side has done just that.
Christmas celebrations in Paignton will go on all day on Saturday, November 24, with a fireworks display at 6pm — at the same time as a firework display at Brixham Harbour.
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Brixham traders have now warned if Paignton wants a 'Santa war' they can have one.
Denise McDowell, chairman of the Brixham Chamber of Trade, claimed: "It has been an agreement for many years that we would work together so our community diaries do not clash.
"We believe Paignton are acting in a dishonourable manner by breaking this agreement and the Torbay Town Centres Company should have shown more backbone and said no.
"These tactics will not work and we will be aggressively marketing our event in Churston, Broadsands, Galmpton, Hookhills and Kingswear.
"We are confident it is Brixham they will support."
Brixham and Torbay councillor Mike Morey said he was furious with Torbay Town Centre Company's decision to move the Christmas celebration in Paignton to the same date as Brixham.
He said: "This flies in the face of a previous agreement made between the three towns to stagger each event so not to clash.
"For some Paignton traders to unilaterally break that agreement at short notice will not only cause anger in Brixham, but will undermine the cooperation built up over the last couple of years by those who have been working hard to provide Christmas celebrations.
"I'm not so concerned about any effect on the Brixham event caused by this decision, as our event is attended by thousands of people annually with the harbour as a magnificent backdrop for the fireworks, fairground rides and school choirs.
"My concern is many parents and children enjoy attending each event one after the other as these are the curtain raisers for Christmas in the three towns.
"I ask those Paignton traders involved to change their decision especially as it could be seen to be at odds with the Christmas Spirit and urge them to keep to the agreement previously made."
Both celebrations will now take place on Saturday, November 24. The Paignton event was originally due to take place the following day.
Matthew Clarke, chairman of the Paignton BID, said: "It would not have made much commercial sense to have our Christmas launch on a Sunday when most shops are closed.
"Saturday is a much better date. Besides this is not a lights switch-on event as such but an all-day event with street theatre and music which will launch Christmas shopping in Paignton."
Matthew Dart, Paignton BID manager, said the clashing dates had been an oversight which he would ensure did not happen again next year .
But he said any other date would not have worked because of the proximity to Remembrance Weekend in November and other events early in December. He said: "The biggest issue we have is that there are few Saturdays available we can put on an event.
"The traders decided it made more sense to have the event on Saturday. It is not a Christmas lights switch on as such with a countdown. Our lights come on throughout the day but it is the beginning of festive campaign.
"Last year we had it on a Thursday and families with children complained it was difficult to attend and they missed most of the day's events. A Saturday will make it easier."