EVERYONE knows that festive feeling you get from shopping in a bustling town centre in November or December. With Christmassy jingles playing in the stores and seasonal lights twinkling in the streets, it’s easy to spend an extra pound or five in the shops and markets.

While some deplore the commercialisation of a religious festival, for others Christmas shopping is an event in itself, and the more festive a town or city, the more likely they are to visit. So well done to Darlington Borough Council for recognising the importance of creating that special Yuletide feeling and looking again at how the town’s Christmas lights could be funded for this year at least.

It had been thought that large scale budget cuts at the authority, combined with the demise of the town’s Distinct Darlington group, would mean no Christmas lights or festivities this year.

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But by re-allocating the £20,000 that its town centre sites had previously paid to Distinct Darlington, and finding sponsors for a switchon event, the council will put on Christmas lights for 2017.

North-East retail consultant Graham Soult, who has previously urged the council to make the town centre as attractive as possible following recent store closures, said he was glad Darlington had “seen sense” and kept the lights.

The welcome from under-pressure traders has been overwhelming, with one saying it would bring a “feel-good factor” to the town, and another saying the lights could be an attraction in themselves.

It is clear the council still has difficult financial times ahead, with the planned closure of Crown Street Library yet to take place, but £20,000 for the lights is money well spent if it creates a much-needed buzz in the town centre.