THE big Christmas light switch event in Maidenhead town centre is off – but other plans are coming out of the pipeline.

Residents were meant to gather in the town centre this Saturday – but, like many other town centres across the country, many festive events have been called off due to Covid-19.

However, Maidenhead town manager Steph James said the Christmas lights will still be turned on and has compiled alternative plans and events for residents and businesses to still get involved with.

She said she is working with various groups, such as the Royal Borough and Windsor Museum, to make sure other events can still go ahead this year as well as showcasing the borough’s parks and open spaces for residents to enjoy if lockdown is extended.

She urged residents to make the borough to look “as festive as possible” where the council will be launching a competition later this month for residents to share and submit photos of their decorated homes.

READ MORE: Windsor & Maidenhead urged to impose free car parking during Christmas period

A Christmas display version will also be launched for local businesses to get involved with.

An artisan market in Maidenhead was hoping to go ahead this year in the run-up to the festive season – but has been moved to an online format for crafters to showcase their work during the lockdown.

Steph James said: “It’s a pledge really for everyone to think local when you’re doing your Christmas shopping.

“We have some absolutely incredible businesses in the borough, and they are working so hard to be able to still market themselves and still get their names out there during a very difficult time.”

During her update, she said the town centre saw a 34 per cent dip in footfall in October compared to last year.

Steph James said: “We haven’t gotten back up to the footfall we have had in the previous year. It is steadily recovering – but we are no means back up to where we were previously.”

READ MORE: Anti-bullying week brings sad memories to Windsor councillor

Maidenhead town centre currently has 38 empty retail units – which has risen by four units since December 2019.

Recent loses includes Tescos in the shopping centre, Poundstretcher, and Monsoon on the High Street.

A planning application to redevelop the Nicholson shopping centre has been submitted where the town manager said it’s a “difficult time” for businesses who are at the end of their leases because it is “unlikely” for them to renew due to the application pending.

However, more public consultation on the scheme is to be conducted later this month.

Car parks in the town centre have also been quiet as their usage down by 51.4 per cent.

Businesses forced to close down due to lockdown can apply for grants on the council’s website.

The town centre update was given at a Maidenhead town forum on November 17 (Tuesday).