The Daily Telegraph

Blackpool lights up 1m bulbs despite record energy bills

- By Emma Gatten

THE Blackpool Illuminati­ons have been switched on despite record energy costs after the council switched to eco-friendly lightbulbs and renewable energy.

The annual event, first held in 1879, uses more than one million bulbs and was switched on by television interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-bowen.

Several other councils have been forced to cancel light displays or other seasonal entertainm­ent because of rising costs. Organisers of Cardiff ’s major annual fireworks show yesterday said the event would be cancelled for the first time in 40 years because of “escalating costs”. Guildford will not hold its Christmas lights switch-on event this year after the borough council said it could not “afford or justify” the money.

Ely in Cambridges­hire has also decided to cancel its annual event to switch on the lights, which it estimates costs taxpayers nearly £9,000.

Blackpool council leader Lynn Williams said switching its light display to LED bulbs and renewable energy had helped it save money. She told the BBC that the council has reduced costs elsewhere in order to “ensure the lights shine brightly” during the autumn and winter months.

The council has been steadily switching to LED, and has cut its electricit­y bill by 75 per cent in the last 20 years.

Although domestic household bills will rise by 80 per cent from October, businesses and councils face even higher spikes because they are not protected by a price cap.

Schools are being forced to cut teaching hours and plunge themselves into debt to cover costs in the coming months, while having to fundraise to buy new books, education unions have warned.

Pub and restaurant owners are warning of mass closures this winter without more support, with a recent survey suggesting one in four hospitalit­y bosses are thinking about closing.

Several local councils are planning to open “warm banks” in town halls or libraries, where people can spend time if they are struggling to pay their heating bills.

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