‘Sour grapes’ Christmas lights rumpus

A workman from Gordon Higton's firm putting the brackets back on the side of a Regent Road shop on Monday. Photo by Steven Ogden.
A workman from Gordon Higton's firm putting the brackets back on the side of a Regent Road shop on Monday. Photo by Steven Ogden.

This is a story of a row over Christmas lights that could only happen in Morecambe.

And this illuminating tale all hinges around the disappearance – and swift return – of a few brackets.

The brackets in question are used to fix Christmas lights on the side of Regent Road shops to brighten up the West End – but were removed on Sunday morning, much to the fury of shopkeepers. They were taken down by staff employed by Gordon Higton, a Christmas lights engineer, who said the brackets were being used in an act of “plagiarism”.

Mr Higton’s firm has supplied Christmas lights for the West End for several years – until this year when traders got together to arrange their own display.

But Mr Higton told The Visitor the brackets were his, and anyone using them should pay. He said: “They used our equipment to put up their lights so I took the brackets down. The council rang me to tell me trees were hanging down, that’s how I found out. Yes, it could be a case of sour grapes but this is how I make my living. I make it very clear that this equipment is for rental. They should pay me for the use of it.”

Steven Ogden of Oggy’s Cycles on Regent Road, said: “It’s the first time in years we’ve got together to put our own trees up.” Mr Ogden said he believed the brackets had been paid for by Winning Back the West End funding in 2008 and Lancaster City Council was looking into the matter. Mr Higton said an agreement has now been made with some of the shopkeepers and his staff returned some brackets on Monday as “a goodwill gesture”.

A police spokesman said police had been notified but the issue was “a civil dispute”.