Will trade fizzle out for New Year?
BUSINESSES in Looe have voiced dismay at the cancellation of the town's New Year's Eve firework display.
Traders say they fear they will suffer as a result, as the tens of thousands of people at the event provide a huge boost to Looe's economy.
We reported last week that the display was in jeopardy due to a lack of volunteers to act as stewards and clean up afterwards, and because long-time organisers Michala and Garry Powell were stepping down after a number of successful years.
"The evening will go out with a splutter rather than a bang," said Sarah Lee of ceramics studio Paint-a-Pot.
"Every one of my neighbours would be affected: bakeries, cafés, restaurants and retail, but mainly pubs and eateries because of the volume of people.
"It's absolutely heaving because of the fireworks."
Hotelier Colin Clemens estimated that 6,000 people took to the streets of Looe on December 31 each year.
His own hotel, the Old Bridge House, is already fully booked for that night.
"This is such an important issue and it's going to affect us," he said. "We're going to have to contact our guests; it's better to be disappointed and not come than to come and be disappointed."
Mr Clemens and Mrs Lee both expressed concern over the ending of the revelry in the streets of Looe.
Mrs Lee said the firework display provided a natural end-point to the evening.
A letter from the town council letter indicated that there would be no reduction in the police presence in the absence of the display, although Mr Clemens said the concern was that more officers would be needed now there would be no climactic display.
"There'll be more trouble, because people will keep drinking, when most people would disperse after the fireworks," he said.
Jocelyn Braithwaite, of the Anchor Lights B&B, said she was dismayed by the lack of action by the town council to ensure the future of one of the town's most lucrative tourist attractions.
"At a time when we need to be providing all that we can to encourage people to stay in Looe, spend and enjoy their time, the town council has decided to cut back on what has proved to be one of the most popular tourist events of the year, if not the most popular," she said.
"No doubt by doing so they will jeopardise business, as it will surely put some people off spending New Year's Eve here.
"In my mind, we've scored a massive own-goal."
Mrs Lee said the effects of the cancellation would probably not be immediately apparent, but successive events would see a dwindling in visitor numbers.
"This year people will still come," she said.
"If nothing was done the following year we would see vastly flagging numbers.
"One year we were the third most popular destination in the UK; it's spectacular."
Mr Clemens said he too believed Looe would experience a knock-on effect, and bemoaned the lack of planning behind efforts to raise funds for the fireworks.
"The actual time to start collecting money is New Year's Eve," he said, also suggesting that stewards should be equipped to collect donations from patrons on the evening.