The University of Southampton has cancelled the annual Christmas Lights switch-on event after poor weather rendered the site unsafe.
In a joint statement released on social media, Chief Operating Officer of the University Ian Dunn and SUSU president Emily Harrison said that, ‘the grassed area where up to 2,000 people gather for our Christmas lights switch on has been assessed as unsafe for the large crowd at the event to walk on, especially in the dark‘.
The statement goes on to say:
We understand that this is a highlight in the calendar for many of you and we apologise to all those who were looking forward to attending. However, the safety of all our students and staff must come first in our decision making.
The event, which has now been deleted from Facebook after 3,500 people expressed interest or said they would be attending, was scheduled for 4pm on Tuesday, 26 November.
Staff & students – it is with great disappointment that we and @Union_Soton are announcing the cancellation of our annual Christmas Lights event at Highfield Campus, as the grassed gathering area has been assessed as unsafe for a large crowd.
More info: https://t.co/ae0leAqF4I
— University of Southampton (@unisouthampton) November 26, 2019
Government statistics on rainfall and river flow for the period 13-19 November show that in the South East, rainfall was 106% of the long-term average, and the last two months have seen torrential rain cause traffic chaos across the city of Southampton.
Last year’s Christmas Lights event, jointly hosted by SUSU and the University, featured carol performances from the Southampton University Brass Band, a festive market, and Surge Radio broadcast the switch-on by the then-Vice Chancellor live.
The joint statement assures students and staff that the lights will still be switched on in the coming week despite the event not going ahead.