Village may be given an increased Christmas presence

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ashley christmas lights
Ashley’s shops could see a little more sparkle this Christmas

EXTRA festive cheer could illuminate Ashley at Christmas amid calls for lights to be displayed in its main shopping precinct for the first time and a tree erected outside a church.

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The idea was brought up at a recent meeting of New Milton Town Council’s finance and general purposes committee – held via video conferencing service Zoom – when members applauded the success of last year’s display in the town centre.

Committee chair Cllr Steve Davies said: “Not only was it in budget, but the lights on the trees looked absolutely fabulous – it was a real treat.”

Speaking out about extending the display to cover the Ashley parade, Cllr David Hawkins said it would help put smiles on people’s faces following the trauma and upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“What I’d like to do this year, particularly with this bloody virus getting everyone down, would be to get some lights in Ashley parade and a Christmas tree outside Ashley Baptist Church,” he said.

Cllr Hawkins’ suggestion was welcomed by Cllr Davies. He did not agree with Cllr Hawkins’ assertion that Ashley seemed to be New Milton’s “poor relation” but he acknowledged the area could sometimes be overlooked.

Cllr Geoffrey Blunden, who chairs the town council’s amenities committee, pointed out Cllr Hawkins had mooted the idea of including Ashley at a recent meeting of the Christmas lights working party.

The group had started looking into the matter before the Covid-19 crisis arose, he explained.

Committee members agreed the lights and tree displays for Ashley should be supported, but it was noted more sponsorship would be needed, including contributions from businesses in the parade.

Cllr Blunden added: “It’s not within the budget, but we hope to be able to do something in Ashley.”

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