THE annual Prestonpans Christmas Parade has been scrapped by organisers in favour of a smaller town hall event.

The decision – taken after consultation with parents – was announced during last week’s community council meeting.

Community council secretary Leanne Ward had organised the parade last year.

Speaking at the meeting, Mrs Ward said: “We have booked the town hall for Saturday, December 1 following comments from people saying that Sundays aren’t great time-wise as it was tea-time and kids needed to get ready for school and things like that.”

The new event will take place 2-4.30pm. Entry is free, with donations taken for East Lothian Foodbank and Cash for Kids.

The decision to scrap the parade was opposed by community council member Graeme Hutchison.

“Last year’s parade was one of the biggest parades that we have had,” he said. “There will be a lot of people who will be, I’m not saying annoyed, but I think a lot of people will be put out that there’s not a Christmas parade in Prestonpans.”

Fellow member Tony Leach agreed, saying: “What about all the parents that were there last year? It was absolutely packed.

“It just seems a shame that after such a great event, all of a sudden it’s all very negative about it.”

The decision came after Mrs Ward and fellow community councillor Nancy Rafferty canvassed parents at town schools.

“I don’t go to the parade because for me to bring my kids out whilst it’s cold, to have them walk through Prestonpans whilst it could be piddling down with rain, to go and stand and watch lights go on, no, that’s not for me,” said Nancy.

“[Other parents] said they loved the idea of it being in a town hall. They felt it was more community-based. They loved the idea of there being a Santa.

“They absolutely loved this idea more than having their kids walk down the Pans. If it’s not great weather they said they wouldn’t show up anyway. But at least this gives them the option to come inside, come into the warm, and their kids get to see Santa. From a parents’ point of view that would make more sense.”

The decision was supported by fellow community councillor DJ Johnston-Smith, who said: “It is a lot of work. I think we have to bear in mind that last year Leanne had just become secretary and the whole thing was landed on her to arrange the whole event. It wasn’t right. It was great last year but at times it was a logistical nightmare.”

The plan is currently to have a few stalls in the town hall with local traders and arts and crafts. There will also be a Santa’s grotto, as well as a letter to Santa appeal.

The switching on of the town’s Christmas lights will also take place on December 1. Mrs Ward confirmed that a section of High Street would be closed to traffic from 4.30pm to 4.45pm so the lights could be safely turned on.

A section of High Street Mrs Ward also confirmed that High Street would be closed this year following safety concerns from last year when the road was still open during the actual switching-on of the lights. The road will be shut from 4.30pm to 4.45pm on December 1 as the lights are switched on.