'Christmas tree move will not affect fun fair' says Leighton-Linslade Town Council

Credit: Jane Russell.
Credit: Jane Russell.

Two irate residents turned up at a Leighton-Linslade Town Council meeting to voice their concerns about plans to move the High Street Christmas tree.

It was recently announced by the council that the tree would be moving to the bottom of Leighton Buzzard High Street this festive season, which has not gone down well with many LBO readers and social media followers.

The change is said to complement the council's plans to create 'gateway feature' (the Greensand Ridge Walk and Greensand Cycleway are to extend right into the town centre), while it also means the tree size won't be limited, and that market traders have "more space".

LB First was also informed that it was to avoid the potential hazard of vandals climbing onto the tree via the market cross and to give better access out of the town centre if there is an emergency.

However, many residents are unhappy that they were not consulted about the plans, and two attended a meeting of the Cultural & Economic Services Committee on Monday (October 7) to voice their concerns during public questions.

Central Bedfordshire and Leighton-Linslade Town Councillor, Victoria Harvey, said: "They raised concerns about the Christmas tree being moved and about losing the maidenhair tree. They wanted to know whether it [the move] would affect the fun fair, as that would be placed around the tree.

"The response was that their concerns would be taken on board.

"The Christmas tree wasn't on the agenda, but the Christmas Weekend was discussed.

"The stage will be up at the top when turning on the lights and the fireworks will be from the top of the multi-storey car park.

"Everyone will be looking at the stage but the tree will be down the bottom."

Plans to move the Christmas tree to the bottom of the High Street means that the endangered maindenhair tree has already been removed.

The original donor of the maidenhair tree, Cllr Steve Owen, consented to its removal, and a replacement tree will be planted in one of the town’s parks this winter.

Ms Harvey added: "At the bottom of the high street will be the beginning of the Greensand Ridge trail and there is going to be a sculpture specifically commissioned to celebrate the history of the area.

"However, I am concerned about the number of trees we are losing from the high street. They do make the town much nicer. It is an issue if the trees are planted in pots, so perhaps shrubs might be a bit better.

"Cllr Gordon Perham also suggested that having more than one [Christmas] tree might be something to try. It was more a general thought for the future.

"I hope it [the Christmas Weekend] is going to work. I will be delighted if it does."

A Leighton-Linslade Town Council spokeswoman, said: "The location of the Christmas tree will not impact on the buses or bus station on the High Street.

"The Christmas Festival will not suffer loss of any space, as the circle area has not been utilised to date.

"The Town Council continues to work with LB First in planning the festival. The LB First representative confirmed that over the years, changes had been made to the layout of the Christmas Festival and in principle, the idea of moving the Christmas tree is no different.

"There are presently no plans to have two Christmas Trees at this year’s event. Careful consideration will however be given to this idea for future events."

Meanwhile, in the minutes of the meeting, a further reason was cited for changing the tree's location: "A response was given that the decision to re-site the Christmas tree had been made in March 2019 and was due to the fact that no structural certificate was available to inform the tree supplier of the safety of using the existing groundhole. Whilst it was regrettable that a tree had had to be removed, another would be planted in Mentmore Park.

"Preparatory site visits and risk assessments would be undertaken and no issues were anticipated in respect of the three-day fun fair or the buses."

What is your opinion about the tree? Email: joanna.gravett@jpimedia.co.uk