WEYMOUTH’S fairy lights may twinkle again after people power forced them back on the council agenda.

Councillors agreed to conduct further investigations into seafront lighting after being presented with a protest petition bearing almost 1,700 names.

The campaign to bring back the fairy lights has been led by resident Dave Burchill who believes the seafront is a ‘dark and unwelcoming’ place without them.

The traditional strings of coloured lights, which hung along the seafront since the mid-1950s, were removed last year and replaced with modern lighting and lasers as part of a seafront regeneration scheme.

Mr Burchill and others were applauded as they spoke up in favour of the fairy lights at a meeting of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council at the Guildhall. Members of the public crammed into the public gallery to hear the outcome of the debate.

Mr Burchill told councillors he was ‘passionate’ about the area and said although he understood the need for the town to progress and create new attractions, the fairy lights were a ‘key part of the Weymouth experience’ – and could exist with the lasers.

He added: “Our elected members have wrought many far-reaching changes to our town, and no council can hope to please everyone, but most people feel you do not listen to them.

“This is an opportunity to prove them wrong with this change of heart that will improve the ambience of the Esplanade and lift the oppressive aura that now exists along the seafront.”

Mr Burchill urged councillors to look at the example of Torquay where a new system of catenary lighting had been installed. The lights are efficient (0.6 watt), can run on solar, wind or mains power, are virtually unbreakable and long-lasting.

Councillor John Birtwistle successfully proposed the fairy lights issue be investigated further by the council’s management committee.

He said: “If we allow this to pass there would be a considerable amount of public concern.

“There is real concern about the removal of the fairy lights and the installation of the lasers.

“I’m aware the money for the lasers didn’t come out of council tax money directly but I take the view that public money is public money.”

Coun Kevin Hodder said: “Like others, I miss the fairy lights. It was sad to see them go.

“It’s nice to see something modern but we could have the best of both worlds, and not solely to the cost of the taxpayer. We could bring something back we’re proud of.”

Coun Mike Byatt said: “The principle here is that the public are telling us they are greatly concerned and we as a council must demonstrate we are listening.”

After the meeting, Mr Burchill said: “The plan now is to lobby every councillor on the management committee in the hope they will make the right decision “I can’t see any reason why money can’t be found for this. It’ll be peanuts compared to what has been spent on the seafront.”