Express & Star

‘Grinch’ claim over Christmas tree in Willenhall town centre

A disheartened Willenhall councillor has hit out the town’s Christmas tree saying it feels as if the "Grinch has stolen the festive spirit".

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The Christmas tree on the Lock Maker's Memorial in Willenhall. PIC: Councillor Simran Cheema

Simran Cheema said the thin tree was a shadow of previous ones put up in the town and ‘tucked away’ in a corner instead of being proudly displayed in the centre.

The Willenhall South councillor also hit out at a lack of light switch-on events and added none of the ward members had been consulted.

Walsall Council deputy leader Adrian Andrew said the authority had opted for more sustainable planted trees this year adding every effort had been made to match previous years.

He added they were happy to support community Christmas events and to time lights switch-ons to coincide with them.

The Christmas tree replaced an existing tree and is situated on the Lock Maker’s Memorial on Walsall Street.

Councillor Cheema said: “My biggest disappointment and frustration with the council is that previous years we had a bigger and better tree. It attracted people to the town and brings a festive feeling.

“It used to be situated outside the Wetherspoon. It was right in the centre and everyone could see it when they drove past.

“This one is tucked away in the corner and they moved the location without consulting any of the ward councillors. It was only after the decision was made that they informed us.

“We weren’t consulted about even what tree it is, stuff which we should be kept in the loop about. Residents aren’t happy, we aren’t happy and now nothing can be done until next year.

“It’s a bit of a disappointment really, people were expecting better and we’ve had better in previous years. The Christmas Grinch has taken away our festive feeling.

“What other local authorities have done is have Christmas light switch on events which attract people to their town centres. There’s nothing in Walsall and I don’t understand why.”

Councillor Adrian Andrew said: “This year, the council have replaced the majority of cut Christmas trees with planted trees which are more sustainable option.

“Every effort has been made to provide comparable sized trees and the illumination is consistent with previous years.

“In some instances, it has been necessary to change the location of the trees as planted trees cannot be installed where there are underground services or where ongoing maintenance may not be practicable.

“The council are happy to support community switch on events and this year has been no exception.

“Where we have been approached to time the switch on of lights around community lead Christmas event, we have done so.”