Saturday, 17 November 2012

TALLY HO HO HO: Wonderful Christmas time in Finchley




Wonderful Christmas time in Finchley 

Be excited. Be very excited. A big event was conceived this week by Finchley traders that is going to set Finchley on fire and give families everything they could possible desire this Christmas

So you're living in Finchley with Christmas just weeks away. There's shopping to be done. There's frantic Googling to find a Santa's grotto only to find that even Selfridge's has turned its back on grottos this year.  Where can you locate a skating rink or rides or real reindeer or outdoor carols, music, street lights, a tree that your kids can decorate, late-night shopping, a French or German Christmas market, Peppa Pig and clowns and other life-size children's characters walking around, face painting, special deals in shops and cafes, activities for the whole family and lots of freebies including (dream on) parking, or just somewhere to stroll and linger to soak up the sparkly Christmas atmosphere.  It's an organisational and financial nightmare at the busiest and most stressful time of the year. But wait.  All this and more is going to happen right on your doorstep around Tally Ho Corner and along the High Road in the run up to Christmas. Hence its name, Tally Ho Ho Ho.

"But what about parking?" I hear you moan. "Impossible, disgracefully expensive and payable only by phone".  Well from next Monday, 19 November, a reduction of parking charges and improved parking arrangements should please the people of Finchley. OK, it isn't back to what it was before the charges were hiked up to levels of madness, but Cllr Dean Cohen, now in charge of parking, has listened sympathetically to the concerns of Helen Michael, owner of the Cafe Buzz fighting for local traders who say business has declined by as much as 40% as a direct result of the Council's parking regime.  Charges in car parks and in parking bays will be reduced.  Some double yellow lines will be removed and replaced with new parking bays. And meters will replace phone payments.  There will be free parking at various times over the Christmas period to be announced.

So what is Tally Ho Ho Ho really all about?  It's a result of a group of Finchley traders winning a financial award from the GLA's Outer London Fund, a scheme that aims to regenerate local high streets and restore a sense of community, boost local business, create new jobs and generally improve the lives of residents.  A sum is specifically earmarked for a Christmas event. To put Tally Ho Ho Ho into action, the traders have brought in Sally Williams, who organised the Olympic torch relay in Finchley in the summer.

Whatever their faith or belief, and whatever Christmas might mean to them, the people of Finchley deserve a good Christmas for themselves and their families in hard times, the hardest most of them have ever experienced.  The transient pleasures of credit cards are long gone and every day, forces beyond our control send personal finances hurtling further in a downward spiral.   So local traders want to revitalise Finchley and provide a Christmas that is good for everyone.  Tally Ho Ho Ho is their attempt to keep their high street alive and prevent the familiar fate of so many of today's dying high streets ending up with dozens of boarded-up, derelict, once-thriving businesses and services that were the heart of the community.  They believe a warm and friendly local Christmas is a good place to start.  So go, Finchley, go and Tally Ho Ho Ho!

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