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CHRISTMAS is coming to Westcliff with the festive lights being turned on in Hamlet Court Road for the first time in five years.

Traders have banded together to provide some festive spirit for the shopping area.

Southend Council does not provide funding for any lights in Westcliff and traders felt their area did not deserve to be left out.

With Southend, Leigh, Rayleigh and Canvey lit up with displays, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

They have raised £3,500 to hire a selection of lights to hang from the lampposts, which will light up when the street lights are on.

Michelle Wellsteed, owner of Casa Bonita, which opened a year ago, said: “We’re disappointed the council hasn’t funded lights for our shopping centre. “We shouldn’t have to pay for this ourselves, but we’d rather do that than have nothing. Almost every business has managed to give something towards this. It’s been a great way of us all pulling together. Some have scrimped and saved for it.

“The Hamlet pub has been instrumental in all this. It’s been exciting creating this. “Hamlet Court Road is part of our heritage.

“We’re now fairly hopeful the council will at least pay the electricity costs, which will be very small in comparison.”

The lights will be switched on this Saturday, at about 4pm.

There will be entertainment from local choirs and a visit from Father Christmas.

Southend Council’s Strategic Highways and Traffic Manager, Zulfiqar Ali, said: “We were happy to give the traders in Hamlet Court Road permission to put up the Christmas lights.

“The traders also asked us if we would assist them financially by covering the cost of the electricity needed to power a small string of LED lights and we have agreed to do this on a one-off basis.”