Do you want reindeer to parade?


Wilmslow Town Council has agreed to provide the funding for reindeer to enhance the switching on of the Christmas Lights event again this year.

At their meeting on Monday, 16th May, councillors voted in favour of covering the £2700 cost for this year's event, which is organised by Wilmslow Business Group. However, they agreed to review the situation for future years.

This funding is in addition to the grant Wilmslow Town Council approved last month for Wilmslow Business Group which will provide them with £12,000 for the next two years to go towards the salaries of their events team.

Councillor Martin Watkins, Chairman of the Town Council said "We would like to know from the public what they think about having the reindeer there. What would they say if we were to say we are not having the reindeer any more? That is what we want to know."

Please let Wilmslow Town Council know via the comment box below whether you would like the reindeer parade to continue as part of the Wilmslow Christmas Light Event or not. Do you think it is worth the £2700?

Reindeer Parade, Wilmslow Christmas Lights, Wilmslow Town Council


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Bradley Russell
Wednesday 18th May 2016 at 1:13 pm
As a Town Councillor, I was appalled and ashamed that my fellow councillors took the decision to continue to support the exploitation of these animals.

I would urge the public to speak out against having live animals at the Wilmslow Christmas Light Event.

A busy event such as this, filled with members of the public, bright lights and excited children, is an unsuitable environment for reindeer or any other animals. These beautiful deer belong in the Arctic and subarctic regions of the world. When they're used as holiday "props", they're denied the opportunity to engage in natural behaviour and to roam freely over vast open ranges as they would in their natural circumpolar habitat.

Numerous health and welfare issues are raised by uprooting reindeer and transporting them in captive situations many degrees south of their normal range. People who "hire out" these deer in order to make a few fast pounds at Christmas often don't know the basic facts about the animals. According to research at the Animal and Plant Health Agency, a poor diet, exposure to the diseases of other animals and the stress of being removed from their natural environment have contributed to an increase in deaths among young reindeer used in the UK.

The practice of taking reindeer out on the road, putting them in pens and treating them as if they were just Christmas decorations is unacceptable, and we should not encourage this unethical and abusive trend. We don't want our kids to grow up thinking that live animals exist merely for our "entertainment". Ending the use of reindeer and other animals would do nothing to diminish children's sense of the magic of the holiday season. For the animals, though, it would make a world of difference.

The holiday season is supposed to be about joy and peace. There are many ways that visitors could celebrate this Christmas that would not compromise the well-being of animals.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Bradley Russell
Drew Donaldson
Wednesday 18th May 2016 at 2:47 pm
So councillor Bradley Russell is against the exploitation of reindeer. Many may see his stance as laudable. I do not. If you're looking for exploitation at that time of year look no further than the festival itself. These animals came down from the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre in Glenmore. For 50 weeks of the year they are free to roam the wide open spaces of the Centre similar to their natural habitat. For two weeks of the year they earn their keep on the road. Generating income for the centre to enable them to be well looked after throughout the year but also give children the opportunity to see live reindeer on the streets of their own town. Who would deny children that pleasure? Well councillor Bradley Russell is one.
David Jefferay
Wednesday 18th May 2016 at 5:12 pm
Councillor David Jefferay is another.

I think it would have sent a good message to the children (and adults) of Wilmslow and beyond (as it would inevitably have been reported wider) that Wilmslow Town Council believes that animals are to be respected and that they do not exist solely for our enjoyment. To teach children that message would have been a far greater opportunity than the opportunity to show them what a Reindeer looks like in real life (especially when they can see deer in the "wild" at Tatton Park).

Whilst I accept that the centre where these particular Reindeer live is recognised as being one of the best in the country in terms of animal welfare, the journey to and from Wilmslow and other towns will be stressful for them and I see it as uneccesary.

To say that they need to earn their keep does not justify it. If they were in their natural habitat (not in an area "similar to their natural habitat") there would not be a need for them to earn their keep.

I'll be voting against it again next year.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” - Mahatma Gandhi
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 18th May 2016 at 10:23 pm
No reindeer for me. Please reconsider the waste of £2700 of our money this year too.
Sally Hoare
Thursday 19th May 2016 at 6:52 am
I can't see that it is necessary to transport these animals all this way. Would they really be missed? The money would also be better used at the food bank at Christmas
Sandra Cox
Thursday 19th May 2016 at 7:06 am
I support every word David Jefferay says above. It is wrong to use animals in this way and not a good example to children to see that this is acceptable. Animals are not there just for our enjoyment - we share the planet with them and their welfare is just as important as ours.
Joyce White
Thursday 19th May 2016 at 8:05 am
No reindeer for me either. I find it an uncomfortable experience. They belong in the wild.
Nick Jones
Thursday 19th May 2016 at 8:49 am
The postage stamp piece of land sown as a wild meadow on the A538 link for the bargain price of £1900 ( from memory ) was to say the least ... An expensive, and failed Joke.
So without considering the further waste of our tax dollars...... at least it did not involve animal cruelty..... I would rather see a £2700 donation to the local animal shelters.. who do fabulous work.. and see the local councilors who thought this was such a good idea shackled up to a sleigh for our entertainment..
Keith Chapman
Thursday 19th May 2016 at 9:33 am
I think the decision taken by the Town Council should be properly understood. I don't believe councillors are strongly pro or anti reindeer. The concern was for children being disappointed. We were aware that our booking has been made for the current year, and once cancelled would be difficult to secure in future years due to heavy Christmas demand. We were satisfied that the reindeer are well cared for round the year and during the parade. We therefore decided to go ahead this year, but to seek the opinion of the public concerning future years. If there is a feeling in the town that the reindeer should be dropped we want to know that so we can make the right decision for the future in line with opinion in the town. So please continue to let us know your opinions. KEITH CHAPMAN (Wilmslow East Town Councillor)
Alan Brough
Thursday 19th May 2016 at 1:27 pm
I agree with the thoughts of David Jefferay (and Mahatma Ghandi)

Reindeer are out of place in Wilmslow and I would prefer my Council Tax to be spent on something else.
Raymond Acton
Thursday 19th May 2016 at 2:57 pm
Please donote the money to local animal shelters.
Julian Abbot
Sunday 22nd May 2016 at 9:38 pm
No reindeer in the town for us, thanks. As David mentions Tatton or Dunham parks have them although without the tinsel.
Kiesha Humphreys
Tuesday 24th May 2016 at 8:43 pm
I don't feel strongly for or against the reindeer that said I'm not a young child who undoubtedly would look forward to seeing the reindeer to them it probably is part of the magic of Christmas. The first year I took my son he was delighted although I must admit I didn't notice if the reindeer where 'happy' I'd expect the responsibility of this to lie with their keepers and the Council to have done the necessary checks prior to booking them.

Our children have lost so much of their innocence due to the society we now live in to me it seems a shame to take yet another thing away from them. Perhaps it could be replaced with a cruelty free visit from Santa assuming the Councillors still believe in him?

Also I don't think you'll get a good feel of public opinion on a forum like this. If the town council really wants to hear public opinion it should be possible to comment in a confidential fashion. I don't think £2,700 is a lot of money considering the numbers of local council tax paying families that turn up to support this event every year.
Sandra Cox
Wednesday 25th May 2016 at 7:18 am
A child could look forward to seeing reindeer at Tatton or Dunham Park. I think we all have a responsibility to notice the welfare of animals and not rely on others who may have a financial gain in agreeing to their use at public events. Given the overwhelming opinion against the reindeer being paraded around town at this event, I think a wider poll would probably come up with the same result.
Kiesha Humphreys
Tuesday 14th June 2016 at 6:06 am
I wasn't going to respond to the above comment as the article did ask for opinions not for an argument but I feel I have to.

Firstly may I say that I think is a fantastic site for providing locals with information specific to our area. Since the Wilmslow Express ceased it's my first port of call for finding out what's happening in the area. That said I rarely comment myself as often I don't feel I have the necessary knowledge (or time) to add anything to what is discussed and don't think I'm alone the stats for this site quote a figure of 35,599 unique views (Google analytics May 2015) this is more than the population of Wilmslow according to the 2011 Census! So on that basis the 13 respondents (3 of which were Councillors) represents 0.03% of the sites readers.

The above story is something I know a lot about without sounding boastful I have previously presented for both local commercial and community radio stations and as I'm sure you can imagine during the run up to Christmas light switch ons were our bread and butter.

I have also worked in the hospitality industry and seen first hand the excitement of young children over the Christmas period. I currently work in Marketing Communications so understand a fair bit about how PR/advertising/social media etc works if for example the above was posted on Wilmslow Mums or MITK you may find a completely different set of opinions to the ones above.

May I also add that I am a mother of two young children and just to get a little bit more personal I am also a vegetarian. I will be taking my children to this years light switch as I have every year. What is so special about this event is that despite the cold weather people come out in their masses to attend and interact with the local community. I think it's naive to think that because more people didn't comment the above comments represent the 'voice' of the people of Wilmslow.

People don't always wish to air their voice publicly perhaps for fear of reprisal but that doesn't mean they don't have one. If the reindeer go and an alternative is not found which is appealing to young families I can guarantee the numbers attending this event will slowly decline. WTC and WBG need to take this into account and think carefully about their plans for 2017. I'm not saying keep the reindeer I don't feel I have all the facts to make that call but the number of people who attend this event surely provides a better indication of how people feel about the reindeer than the 0.03% of readers who commented. I'm sure they've already thought of this but why not conduct some audience research at this years event? I'd happily muck in and help with getting some questionnaires answered.

Christmas is for children not adults. I'd rather my local Councillors looked at ways of making Wilmslow the best it could be and more fun for our youngsters of all age groups not less.

I will be writing to them to suggest they look into building a skate park for our local teenagers given the numbers currently using Spring st.
Nick Jones
Tuesday 14th June 2016 at 12:26 pm
@Keisha, Vegetarianism can be an emotive subject when balanced against animal welfare, and ‘Christmas’ is, as you allude most definitely for children… But I don’t recall ‘Reindeer’ in the Nativity ? … And your right a more appropriate considered even local more relevant solution could be found, if the livestock option is the proffered option. (Probably for considerably less money, and an opportunity to raise some funds for local animal welfare volunteer groups who do a fabulous job looking after abandoned and mistreated animals)… Moving animals from Scotland to Wilmslow can’t be acceptable,( even if it raises money for their cause) so let’s hope WTC demonstrate some initiative in response to your suggestion.
Jon Armstrong
Tuesday 14th June 2016 at 4:47 pm
"the number of people who attend this event surely provides a better indication of how people feel about the reindeer than the 0.03% of readers who commented."

Kiesha - Using the same logic as your argument, the number of Wilmslow attending to see the reindeer is a tiny percentage of the total population of the town, so you could infer the majority of people do not want the reindeer there. Of course that is nonsense, but follows the same flawed logic as your reasoning.

Anyway, since when did something being popular make it right?
Kiesha Humphreys
Wednesday 15th June 2016 at 5:31 am
Nick - I totally agree my choice to be a veggie has got me into many an awkward discussion when dining with friends when a staunch meat eater asks me why I'm vegetarian just before the mains are served! I don't believe in forcing my opinion of vegetarianism down other peoples throats (excuse the pun) and have even taken the decision to raise my two children as omnivores until they are old enough to understand and make their own decision one way or the other. The only reason I mentioned this was for context. Another thing to be taken into account when asking for public opinion which you can't gain a good steer on from the above. Hence my suggestion that a wider survey take place. Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world but one that is full of contradictions the late Muhammad Ali is a superb example of this.

Jon - Yes you're right analysing demographics and making sensible recommendations to my clients is something which I do in my day to day working life. An event which is targeted at young families might not necessarily be well attended by the whole of Wilmslow. Given the demographics of the area i.e. the biggest percentage of people in the area are the 65+'s 23% of the area. In the same way that posting this question only on this site is flawed. We should try to cater for all age groups in our community.

Unfortunately the affordability issue and lack of provisions for kids particularly teenagers has meant that many of my friends have or are considering moving out of the area so they can get a larger family home. Having grown up in Alderley Edge and spent many happy years in this area I would love to raise my children here too but if we're not careful Wilmslow could end up a ghost town. I'm glad my comments evoked a response and think Jon's idea of sourcing animals locally (if that's what people want) is a very sensible one.
Oliver Romain
Thursday 16th June 2016 at 6:58 pm
Humbug! Reindeer are not essential. Given the cost I say do not renew. However we should debate what else would work well to give the switch on some extra oomph for less money. Perhaps hiring a choral group or brass band to play and sing carols?