Long Sutton Parish Council has abandoned its traditional Christmas tree beside the war memorial and, instead, will light up a tree in St Mary’s churchyard.
The plan is under fire from former volunteers who used to put up the town’s tree and festive lights because the tree at St Mary’s isn’t visible from much of Market Place.
Traditionally, the town had a Christmas tree beside the war memorial and all the electrical connections for it are there, hidden under a manhole cover.
Few knew the church tree would become the town’s Christmas tree until a trench was dug from the old tree site to the new one so electrical cables could be installed.
Parish council chairman Charles Moore revealed yesterday the cost of the work is £2,200 and “the project to enable us to use the churchyard tree has taken us two years to achieve”.
The town has suffered a catalogue of problems with its Christmas tree in the past, including it being cut in half by vandals, and Coun Moore says: “Please don’t judge the tree until you have seen it up and shining.”
David Pateman, from Parkway hardware store, volunteered for 13 or 14 years with the town’s Christmas decorations team, and is disappointed to see the switch of sites.
He said there were always health and safety concerns and road traffic concerns but people were prepared to give and take because it was Christmas.
Mr Pateman described the churchyard tree as a “big conifer” and said: “It doesn’t look much like a Christmas tree.”
Fellow former volunteer Gary Rayner, from GJR Autos, said: “It’s sad to see that health and safety/do-gooders once again put an end to something that should be festive and in the spirit of a nice atmosphere around town.”
Coun Moore said: “The Christmas tree in the town over the past years has been subject to vandalism from the lights stolen or cut down, complaints about cars not able to drive clearly past the tree and one year the tree being cut in half.
“As a council we have to comply with health and safety regulations and this goes double for Fridays (market days) with the district council.
“We want to ensure we can have a Christmas tree and be safe and comply with local and district health and safety.”
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